Sri Lanka warmed up for the Super Eights in style, outclassing the West Indies by 15 runs in an inconsequential Group C match of the ICC World Twenty20 in Trent Bridge, Nottingham, on Wednesday.
The match was effectively a dead rubber, with both teams having qualified for the next stage of the tournament. But Sri Lanka were keen to keep the momentum going after their victory over Australia and came up with a strong batting display to post 192 for five and then restrict the West Indies to 177 for five.
Their huge total was set up by a rampaging stand from openers Sanath Jayasuriya and Tillakaratne Dilshan, who put on 124 runs for the first wicket in just 78 deliveries.
Jayasuriya was at his attacking best as he hammered 81 from just 47 deliveries that included 10 boundaries and three sixes.
Dilshan took over once Jayasuriya departed and finished with 74 from 47 deliveries, inclusive of 11 boundaries and a six.
For the West Indies, Lendl Simmons came up with a great performance with the ball, claiming four for 19 in three overs, even as the rest of the bowlers struggled.
Dwayne Bravo top scored with 51 from 38 deliveries to help West Indies make a strong reply, but they never were able to challenge the Lankans.
Chris Gayle was rested for the match and wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin, who took over the captaincy, elected to field.
After a quiet first over, Jayasuriya decided it was time to break loose and smashed Fidel Edwards in the second over. He started with two boundaries and a six off Edwards and followed it up with another maximum through midwicket off Jerome Taylor in the following over.
Though the match was of no consequence to both teams, Sri Lanka seemed determined to make most of this opportunity with a good performance with the bat.
Not to be kept quiet, Tillakaratne Dilshan then showed some of his batting prowess when he hit Kieron Pollard for 19 in his first over. He played his scoop shot over the wicketkeeper for a boundary and followed it up with a six and boundary over the point region as Sri Lanka raced to 66 after the six overs.
Jayasuriya raced to his half-century in the eighth over off just 29 deliveries, hitting six boundaries and two sixes in the process.
The veteran left-hander was feeling so comfortable in the middle that even he hit a reverse sweep boundary against left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn in the ninth over. The first ball of the next over from pacer Edwards disappeared high into the stands over point as Jayasuriya unleashed a ferocious cut shot.
In the same over, the West Indies wasted a good opportunity to dismiss Jayasuriya (64) when Lendl Simmons, running from the square leg, failed to get down in time and take the catch which went for a boundary.
Immediately, Jayasuriya made them pay, hitting boundaries on either side of the wicketkeeper to race to 76 from 41 deliveries, inclusive of nine boundaries and three sixes. Dilshan was enjoying it all from the other end with 24 from 24 deliveries, as Sri Lanka reached a strong 105 for no loss at the halfway stage.
Edwards was having one of the worst days in Twenty20 cricket as he conceded 37 in his first two overs.
The other bowlers did no better. Pollard, who gave 19 runs in his first over, came back and saw his first ball disappear to the boundary courtesy a reverse sweep from Dilshan.
It was medium pacer Simmons who claimed the first wicket when he dismissed the rampaging Jayasuriya for 81. The veteran left-hander, who smashed 10 boundaries and three sixes in his 47-ball knock, went for a reverse sweep but missed and was struck right in front of the stumps. That wicket came as a big relief for the West Indies, particularly for Simmons, who had dropped him on 64.
Jayasuriya dominated his opening stand of 124 in 12.3 overs with Dilshan as the two openers laid a solid foundation for the rest of the batsmen to follow.
Dilshan, who had a great run with the bat in the IPL, continued his purple run with his second half-century in as many matches. The right-hander slammed Pollard for two more boundaries in the 14th over before bringing up his half-century in the next over off just 35 deliveries.
Against the run of play, Sri Lanka lost their second wicket and once again to Simmons. Captain Kumar Sangakkara made 5 before he lofted one straight at wide long-on in the 15th over.
The West Indies fielding was a big letdown and it looked as if they were just going through the motions. Dilshan didn't seem to mind as he bagged a boundary from one such misfield by Simmons in the cover region and followed it up with a cracking boundary through point as Sri Lanka reached 162 for two after 16 overs.
But for Simmons the West Indies could have found themselves in a bigger hole. The medium pacer pulled back things a bit with two wickets in his third over, including that of the dangerous Dilshan, in the 18th over of the innings.
Mahela Jayawardene (4) tried to loft one over long-on but got a top edge which was taken by wicketkeeper Ramdin. Dilshan then played his favourite scoop shot over the wicketkeeper off the next delivery but perishing immediately after for a cracking knock of 74. The Sri Lankan opener hit 11 boundaries and a six in his 47-ball knock before hitting a reverse sweep straight to the point fielder.
Chamara Silva (7) fell in the final over to Jerome Taylor as Sri Lanka amassed a huge 192 for five in their 20 overs.
Sri Lanka may well be confident of victory after their good batting performance, while the West Indies, without Chris Gayle, may struggle to even come close to that total.
The absence of Gayle was clearly evident, as openers Lendl Simmons and Andre Fletcher failed to get going. Left-arm spinner Jayasuriya opened the bowling and gave away just three runs in his first over.
But after a sedate start it was Simmons who made inroads with the bat as he hammered Jayasyuriya for consecutive boundaries in the third over.
Fletcher took cue from Simmons and launched Malinga high into the
stands over midwicket as the West Indies finally moved along. But Malinga had the last laugh when he foxed him the very next delivery with a slower one. The batsman was way too early into shot as he tried to launch the full toss over midwicket but was beaten all ends up and bowled for 13.
Even Ajanntha Mendis got little respect from Simmons in his first over, the batsman pulling and reverse sweeping him for a couple of boundaries. But veteran Muttiah Muralitharan cut short his brisk knock of 29 (19 balls, 5 boundaries) having him caught at slip in the seventh over.
Mendis then left West Indies reeling, claiming two wickets in his second over. Xavier Marshall tried to loft Mendis straight down the ground but ended up lofting a simple catch to Silva for 14.
In the same over, Mendis struck with the big wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who was bowled off an inside edge for 1. It was Sri Lanka, who were holding the upper hand at this stage as the West Indies were reduced to 74 for four after eight overs.
Dwayne Bravo tried to lead a counter-attack, smashing Jayasuriya for a boundary and six in the 12th over. The West Indies all-rounder dominated the 50-run partnership for the fifth wicket off 44 deliveries as he scored 35 of them, while Ramnaresh Sarwan had just 13.
But Sri Lanka's big total meant that West Indies were always behind the run-rate even though they were going all out. They reached 121 for four in 15 overs and faced a stiff task of scoring 72 from the last five overs.
Sarwan, meanwhile, was content playing second fiddle as he concentrated mainly on singles. But in the 17th over, he launched Mendis over long-on and Angelo Mathews, at full stretch, took an overhead catch but fell outside the boundary ropes because of the momentum. He, however, showed great presence of mind to keep his foot off the ground and somehow get the ball in and restrict the batsmen to just three.
Bravo brought up his half-century in style off just 38 deliveries when he slammed Malinga over midwicket for a six. But he fell off the next delivery. Once again it was the slower delivery from Malinga that caused the damage. He tried another big shot through midwicket but failed to read the slower delivery and ended up lobbing a simple catch to mid-on. He was dismissed for 51 off just 38 deliveries, inclusive of five boundaries and two sixes.
Sarwan finished unbeaten on 28 from 26 deliveries and Pollard helped himself to 19 from 11 deliveries as West Indies finished on 177 for five and lost by 15 runs.
That victory meant Sri Lanka will go into the Super Eights high on confidence having won both their matches, against West Indies and Australia.