In the coming weeks, teams about to play West Indies will find themselves grappling with the question: 'How do we neutralise Chris Gayle?' Gayle is arguably the most destructive batsman in this competition. He is T20-made flesh. The world - nay - the universe boss.

But on Sunday night, the only thing he bossed was the dressing room. The defending champions didn't just keep him quiet, they put on a clinic other teams may want to take note of. Sri Lanka took Gayle completely out of the equation.

Let us begin in the first few overs of the evening, because the most impressive thing about Sri Lanka's effort, was that it was collective - built upon little-by-little, by many. If Sri Lanka were heading for a substantial score, West Indies may have had no choice but to keep a slightly-injured Gayle on the field, so that he could bat in his usual position at the top of the order. Sri Lanka's own batsmen strived manfully to prevent this.

In the fifth over, Dinesh Chandimal set off for a single that could have only existed on a low-gravity planet. Sound must also have different physical properties on this world, because Lahiru Thirimanne's call of "no" appeared to reach Chandimal many seconds after Thirimanne had delivered it. The stumps were broken and Sri Lanka were in trouble. Soon Thirimanne himself, and Chamara Kapugedera, were both out to Samuel Badree, and the score was 47 for 4.

In Gayle's IPL hometown, the large crowd grew anxious. An upset had been smelt. They came to see another ballistic hundred, just like the one their hero had blitzed against England at the Wankhede, but Sri Lanka were working up the momentum to deny them. How could Gayle hit a hundred, after all, if Sri Lanka didn't get to triple figures as a team?

Three balls later, still in Badree's final over, another crucial blow was dealt. Milinda Siriwardana edged the ball to Gayle at slip, but made him stretch - perhaps just enough to prime that left hamstring for minor injury. Soon enough, Gayle was forced off the field when he felt a strain in the back of his thigh. Like so many great Sri Lanka ploys, this one was beginning to take on a growing sense of inevitability. Angelo Mathews scratched around for 32 balls. Thisara Perera ended up having the responsibility of shepherding the tail.

But it was in the field that Sri Lanka's silencing of Gayle really came together. Having been off the field for a significant period of the first innings, Gayle was not allowed to come in to bat until the time had elapsed, or until West Indies had lost five wickets. A hostile Chinnaswamy crowd began to demand his presence, roaring, "we want Gayle, we want Gayle", yet in the face of all of this, Sri Lanka reached deep to find what it took to deny them. Chamara Kapugedara came off the boundary like a cyclone when a Johnson Charles mishit sailed towards him in the fourth over. But instead of catching the ball, he chest-bumped it back most of the way towards the pitch.

A frustrated Gayle came padded up to the dressing room balcony, and the fans pined loudly for him. But even after he became eligible to bat, Sri Lanka's defiance did not relent. A top edge off Andre Fletcher's bat seemed to be descending into Nuwan Kulasekara's hands at third man in the 18th over, but the ball leapt joyfully out of the closing bear trap, and vaulted over his right shoulder, like a prisoner over a chain link fence. The whole thing was so theatrical. Never let it be said that Sri Lanka no longer play their cricket with style.

The umpires too, lent Sri Lanka a hand in their endeavours. Two out-and-out dismissals were denied by poor officiating, helping keep Gayle off the field. At one stage, the fourth umpire was seen dragging Gayle back towards the dressing room. Fortune favours the bold, they say. Determination rarely comes steelier than it did in this Sri Lanka showing. They were making their own luck.

It would be a mistake, of course, to gloss over the performances that didn't mesh with the team's objectives. Sri Lanka had only brought legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay into their squad 48 hours before this match, and they named him in the playing XI at the toss, sparking a little confusion as to when he had joined the team. Team selection has been so shambolic in the past three weeks, it seemed entirely possible that Sri Lanka would pick a player who wasn't even in the country yet. But Vandersay did make it to the ground, and he delivered four overs, each of which threatened to bring Gayle into play. Plenty of time to learn from his team-mates, though, perhaps.

In the end, Gayle's batting was a no-show. Those broad, powerful shoulders had no impact on the innings. Those long arms and the gigantic bat were muzzled absolutely. And still, after all of this, Gayle had the audacity after the game to tweet "sorry y'all didn't see me bat tonight, but I will be back". Come on, Chris. Don't be so presumptious. If there is a next time, what if you run into Sri Lanka in this kind of mood again?

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando