West Indies end T20 World Cup defence with defeat to Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi

Hetmyer's unbeaten 80 in vain as defending champions lose by 20 runs

West Indies saw their T20 World Cup title defence end with a match to spare in the Super 12 after Sri Lanka claimed a 20-run victory in Abu Dhabi on Thursday evening.

It was a strong response from the already-eliminated Sri Lanka, who had lost their previous three games, and they set the West Indies a target of 190 after some explosive hitting from their top order.

Opener Pathum Nissanka helped himself to a half-century, hitting five boundaries in his 41-ball 51, while No 3 Charith Asalanka top-scored for Sri Lanka with his 68 comprising eight fours and a six. The pair were ably supported by Kusal Perera, who hit 29 from 21 balls, and an unbeaten 25 off 14 from captain Dasun Shanaka.

After a fast start that moved Sri Lanka on to 42-0, the West Indies made the breakthrough when Andre Russell caught and bowled Perera in the sixth over.

Nissanka and Asalanka then put on a 91-run partnership for the third wicket, before Dwayne Bravo broke the stand thanks to a catch on the legside boundary by Shimron Hetmyer.

With Sri Lanka well positioned on 133-2 after 15.3 overs, Asalanka and Shanaka went on the attack until the former's superb innings came to an end when he top-edged Russell's short ball and Hetmyer held on for his second catch of the game.

It was then left to Shanaka and Chamika Karunaratne (three not out) to close out the remaining balls and set West Indies a daunting total to chase, with Russell the pick of the bowlers with figures of 2-33.

In response, the defending champions got off to a disastrous start when Chris Gayle (1) - so often a matchwinner for the West Indies - was sent packing in the second over after mistiming a Binura Fernando delivery and finding Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva at mid-off.

Fellow opener Evin Lewis (8) was removed four balls later when he chopped Fernando on to his stumps. The West Indies had been reduced to 10-2 inside the first two overs and faced an enormous task in keeping alive their already slim hopes of advancing from Group I.

Nicholas Pooran set about rebuilding their innings, although the West Indies soon found themselves three wickets down when Roston Chase (9) was removed by a stunning catch from Bhanuka Rajapaksa at midwicket off the bowling of Karunaratne.

Pooran's resistance then came to an end four runs short of his half-century when Dushmantha Chameera claimed his first wicket of the match after substitute fielder Dhananjaya Maduranga de Silva claimed a catch at long-off to reduce the West Indies to 77-4.

Hetmyer, who top-scored with an unbeaten 80 off 53 balls, continued to fight until the end even as his teammates crumbled around him.

Russell came and went following two runs from four balls after getting caught and bowled by Karunaratne and he was swiftly joined in the dugout by captain Kieron Pollard, who was bowled first ball by De Silva.

Jason Holder (8) followed 10 runs later when he was caught at deep midwicket by Karunaratne off the bowling of Shanaka to leave the West Indies reeling on 117-7.

Bravo (2), who announced he would retire from international cricket after the T20 World Cup, was unable to produce a fairytale ending for his sensational career when he was bowled by De Silva for his second wicket.

The West Indies saw out their remaining overs but were left with too much to do to complete the chase as the defending champions failed to reach the semi-finals for the first time in 10 years.

As Sri Lanka now head home, the West Indies have one Super 12 match left to play before they too depart the UAE and will hope to play for pride when they face Australia on Saturday.

“Always glad to have a half-century and a match-winning knock for my country," player of the match Asalanka said. "Before this World Cup, I hadn't played a lot of T20 cricket. I asked senior players questions and wanted to get better and better by the day.

“I want to say, I was waiting for five years and I worked hard to come to the national side. This is my pay-off time. I just want to carry on, work hard and win more matches for my country.”

Updated: November 4th 2021, 6:05 PM