Andre Fletcher, playing in his first T20I in three months, thumped a 64-ball 83 to help West Indies beat Sri Lanka, by seven wickets, to register their second-straight win at the World T20 played in Bangalore on Sunday.
West Indies pressed Fletcher in to open, after Chris Gayle strained his left hamstring while fielding. The move paid dividends, as he dictated proceedings from the start. He smashed Angelo Mathews for a four and a six, in the first over of the match, and then tore into Rangana Herath for another four and a six in the second over.
Sri Lanka hoped Johnson Charles' departure in the sixth over would provide a change in fortunes, but they were wrong, as Fletcher continued his attacking display. He clubbed another four and a six in the two overs that followed.
West Indies managed 72 for three at the 13th over stage, when Andre Russell joined Fletcher at the crease. The duo put on a 55-run stand for the fourth wicket to help their side complete the comfortable win. Fletcher, the Star of the match, had hit six fours and five sixes in his match-winning knock. His 84 is the highest by a West Indies opener not named Chris Gayle in a T20I.
"As the ball got older it became harder so I just tried to bat through," Fletcher said. "Chris is my mentor in T20 and before I went in he said I would have a big day so I want to thank him for that confidence. But I don't think anyone can take his job."
"The bowlers did their job and the batsmen had to finish it. Good to have another win. We are all as one, unity and strength. We don't want to get complacent and will play each game as a final."
Earlier in the day, Darren Sammy, won the toss and put Sri Lanka in to bat first. Their inform opener, Tillakaratne Dilshan was adjudged lbw in the fourth over by umpire Johan Cloete - when the ball seemed to be heading down leg - for ten.
His departure signalled the start of a collapse from which Sri Lanka never recovered. An accurate display from leg spinner, Samuel Badree, added pressure on Sri Lanka's batsmen to take the unconventional route to find runs.
Badree first prompted a Dinesh Chandimal run-out, after Chandimal failed to score off three-consecutive balls in the fifth over. His next victim was Lahiru Thirimanne - who sliced a Badree delivery, straight to point in the seventh over. Chamara Kapugedera then raced down the pitch too early to be stumped, an over later and Milinda Siriwardana finally nicked a Badree googly to slip.
Mathews and Thisara Perera added 44 runs for the sixth wicket, but Mathews' dismissal in the 17th over ensured that Sri Lanka managed just 122 in their innings, which is their fifth-lowest total when batting first in a T20I.