Gayle achieves bonus-point goal
Apart from setting up a six-wicket win against Sri Lanka on Friday, Chris Gayle's dominating innings also helped West Indies grab a bonus point - a target that Dwayne Bravo had clearly set for his opener. West Indies sauntered past the 209-run target in 37.5 overs, claiming the extra point awarded if the batting side achieved a run rate 1.25 times that of the opposition.
"In the 29th over, we sent a message to Chris to try and win it with a bonus point," Bravo said after the match. He praised Gayle for capitalising on a good start, and putting an average Champions Trophy behind him to score his first ODI century in almost a year.
"It will ease pressure off him," Bravo said. "I know, at the back of his mind, that he felt he wasn't scoring big runs. But he knows how important a player he is for us. I am very happy that he scored a hundred again and batted deep into the innings. When Chris is in that kind of form, it's only good for us as a team and for West Indies cricket."
Bravo also said the team had a plan to attack Sri Lanka's inexperienced middle and lower order. Sri Lanka got off to a solid start, after being put in to bat, as Upul Tharanga and Mahela Jayawardene added 62 runs for the first wicket, but their innings never recovered after they lost the wickets of Jayawardene and Sangakkara in the space of five overs. Angelo Mathews scored an unbeaten 55, but found little support from the other batsmen.
"One of their best batters is batting up the order and the other, Sangakkara, is batting at No. 3," Bravo said. "We know their middle order and lower order is not that experienced, so we had to keep picking up wickets, that was the game plan. Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach and Sunil Narine said they'd do it for us. One can't forget Darren Sammy's spell. I think that killed the momentum in the Sri Lankan innings. Bowling them out for 208 was a fantastic effort by the bowlers."
The win, Bravo said, also lifted the spirits of the team after their exit from the Champions trophy following a tied match against South Africa.
"In the Champions Trophy, we were not disappointed with the way we played, especially in the league stages," he said. "We felt the way we exited the tournament was unfortunate, but as a squad we think that we did a lot of right things. That game against South Africa could have gone either way and, who knows, we could have reached the semi-finals or the final. But we take a lot of positives out of England. We were disappointed with the way that game was called off but we used it to get stronger as a group."
Bravo also backed Roach, who conceded 41 runs in seven overs and was the most expensive bowler for West Indies, and said that there was no reason to change the line-up on the basis of a few innings.
"There was never an issue with Kemar's bowling performance," Bravo said. "In the first game [of the Champions Trophy] against Pakistan, Kemar was the bowler who got us in the position we were in. Today, he created chances and that is what we want from him. One or two bad games don't say anything. He's still one of our best bowlers. It's good to have someone like Tino Best on the sidelines, that's good bench strength for us as a team."
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said his side's inability to get their innings going handed the advantage to West Indies. "It was an important toss, the pitch was two-paced and holding up a bit but it got easier," Mathews said. "We had to adapt to the pitch but we lost wickets and could not get going. Mahela batted brilliantly but he had no partners. We thought we had a chance, but the track flattened out. When Gayle gets going, no attack is enough and no ground big enough."