Jayawardene continues flawless form
Mahela Jayawardene fell narrowly short of posting back-to-back centuries at the ICC World Twenty20 as Sri Lanka eased to a 57-run win against West Indies in their opening Super Eight match at Kensington Oval.
Jayawardene finished unbeaten on 98, after scoring an even hundred against Zimbabwe last time out, as he batted through Sri Lanka’s total of 195 for three - the highest score of the tournament so far.
With skipper Kumar Sangakkara, who hit 68, by his side the duo put their seal on the contest with a stand of 167 from 99 balls for the second wicket, although their cause was aided by some woeful fielding from the hosts.
West Indies dropped three catches, missed a stumping and failed to get hands on two presentable chances and paid for it as the target proved too much for their batsmen.
They never threatened after losing skipper Chris Gayle and fellow opener Shivnarine Chanderpaul early on and finished well short on 138 for eight.
Sri Lanka were given a surprise boost before the match when spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was declared fit to play, despite being ruled out of the tournament with a groin injury only yesterday.
The veteran was hardly required though as new-ball pair Nuwan Kulasekara and Angelo Mathews grabbed the key wickets of Gayle and Chanderpaul respectively within three balls of one another to leave the hosts 23 for two.
Ramnaresh Sarwan and Dwayne Bravo then played solidly to put on a stand of 53, but with 50 balls required their progress was too slow and when they departed there was simply too much for the lower order to do as wickets fell cheaply from then on.
Quick Lasith Malinga made full use of the situation taking 3-28 while Ajantha Mendis returned 3-24.
Earlier, West Indies ruined their own hopes of restricting Sri Lanka with a poor display in the field.
Gayle dropped Sangakkara following a diving effort at slip before he had scored while Kieron Pollard dropped a sharp return catch soon after.
Jayawardene was given three reprieves he hardly needed as he paced the innings with nine fours and four sixes in his 56-ball stay.
The 32-year-old should have been stumped on 65 when he danced down the track to Sulieman Benn but stand-in wicketkeeper Andre Fletcher made a complete hash of the chance.
Worse was to come two balls later when Jayawardene shanked a drive straight up in the air and Fletcher and Wavell Hinds watched the ball as it bounced between them.
Finally the wicket arrived, but not before a stand of 167, when Sangakkara picked out Pollard at long-on off Bravo.
Jayawardene remained and needing three for his century with three balls left, heaved to leg where Bravo failed to get hands on the ball and the batsmen got a single.
Chamara Kapugedera was then bowled by Roach next ball to leave Jayawardene stranded on 98.