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Andrew Fernando in Colombo
September 13, 2012
West Indies' reputation as one of the tournament favourites took a knock when Sri Lanka crushed them by nine wickets in a practice match in Colombo, but West Indies coach Ottis Gibson is adamant that the result means little, given the timing and conditions of the defeat, and their resting of key players.
Batting first, West Indies were restricted to 132 for 6 by a disciplined Sri Lanka bowling effort, before Mahela Jaywardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan struck fluent fifties to make short work of the target, hitting the winning runs in the 16th over with nine wickets to spare.
A low wicket at the Nondescripts Cricket Club hampered the expansive ambitions of the West Indies batsmen, who failed to hit a six between them despite the ground's modest proportions. Lasith Malinga was particularly difficult to get underneath during the death, while Angelo Mathews also proved too skiddy to crash away. "Hundred-and-thirty-three seemed to be a challenging total on a wicket where some balls kept low," Gibson said. "But when they batted they made it look easy. We didn't bowl particularly well, which we'll need to look at."
Fidel Edwards was intense during his first over to Dilshan Munaweera, but was friendly thereafter, trying to intimidate with pace and bounce but managing only to serve up poor short balls, most of which were not on target anyway. Andre Russell and Dwayne Bravo were also wayward, and after a few overs at the crease Jayawardene even felt comfortable trialling a new stroke - a reverse pull-shot over short third man that went for four. Spin bowlers Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree did not trouble the batsmen either, perhaps due to a flat pitch, rather than many failings of their own.
"When we bowled we looked very aggressive," Gibson said. "Ravi [Rampaul] bowled well. The spinners need to get used to the conditions here and get used to the wicket and not expect anything. I think the spinners expected some turn but there was none. You've got to find the right length against people who have grown up on these pitches and play a lot of spin."
Gibson said that in addition to a pitch that didn't offer a lot for the West Indies bowlers, his players were still becoming accustomed to the climate and that he viewed the practice match as an opportunity to test team combinations. "The game started at 9:30 when most of the games will be in the afternoon. It was very hot this morning, and our guys flew in only two days ago, so it will take a while to get used to the conditions.
"Considering we didn't have Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels in the side, it was an opportunity to give other people a chance. You'd like to win every game, but this was just a warm-up, but if we want to win the World T20, we'll need our bench strength.".
West Indies play one more warm-up match against Afghanistan on Saturday, with Sri Lanka set to take on India the same day. Their first match of the tournament is on September 22, against Australia.
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri LankaFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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