Allen’s all-round brilliance hands Windies the T20 series win over Sri Lanka

(Story & Photos: CWI) Fabian Allen smashed three sixes – including the winning shot over wide long-on which took West Indies to victory over Sri Lanka in the third and final CG Insurance T20 International on Sunday night. With the game on the line, he dispatched two maximums from Akila Dananjaya over the square leg boundary and then hit the third which secured victory in grand style.

The all-rounder was the hero as the home side won another close encounter and took the three-match series 2-1. On hitting the winning runs Allen celebrated by screaming with delight, pumping his fists and looking towards the heavens. He was named the CG Insurance Man-of-the-Match.

“It feels really great to hit the winning runs for my team and get us over the line. It wasn’t just to win the match but to win the series so it’s quite a wonderful thing for me,” Allen said. “… I just backed myself in the end. It was a good performance overall.”
At one stage West Indies were 105-7 after 17 overs, needing 27 from the last 18 balls, but Allen made sure they would be no more hiccups. He ended unbeaten on 21 off just six balls and was well supported by Jason Holder who made 14 not out.

The over before his heroics from Lakshan Sandakan, the left-arm chinaman bowler, Holder farmed the strike so as not to expose Allen – a decision made by both batsmen. The move paid off.

Earlier, Dinesh Chandimal struck an unbeaten half-century but a disciplined effort from West Indies bowlers left the home side on top. He top-scored with an unbeaten 54 off 46 balls to steer the visitors to 131-4 off their 20 overs. Ashen Bandara struck an unbeaten 44 off 35 balls and together with Chandimal, put on a crucial 85 for the fifth wicket to rescue the innings from 46-4 in the 10th over.

Left-arm spinner Allen set the tone for the innings with the new ball when he had opener Danushka Gunathilaka magnificently caught and bowled, one-handed.

Pollard, bowlers lead West Indies to victory over Sri Lanka in 1st T20I

(Match Report: ICC & Photos: Cricket West Indies)

International cricket returned to the Caribbean on Wednesday and it came back with a bang in a match that had everything.

The first international match played in the Caribbean since last January ultimately saw Keiron Pollard’s six consecutive sixes with the bat beat Akila Dananjaya’s hat-trick with the ball.

Set a target of 132 after winning the toss, the West Indies got home by four wickets with 6.5 overs to spare but that barely tells the story of a match that swung wildly throughout.

The first over of the chase, delivered by Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, was clobbered for 19 runs as Evin Lewis hit three consecutive sixes. 

By the end of the third over the West Indies were 48/0 and when Lewis drilled Dananjaya over square leg for four to start the fourth over, it seemed things were going to continue down that path.

Dananjaya had other ideas, removing Lewis for 28 with his next delivery. That brought Chris Gayle out to the middle for his first international innings since 2019. Unfortunately for Gayle, it was a short stay as he fell lbw for a golden duck to Dananjaya. The mystery spinner became the 14th player to take a hat-trick in men’s T20I cricket with his next ball, taking Nicholas Pooran’s edge for another golden duck.

Things got worse for West Indies in the next over as opener Lendl Simmons was trapped in front by Wanindu Hasaranga for 26, reducing them to 62/4 and putting momentum firmly in Sri Lanka’s favour.

Pollard swung things back his team’s way, doling out healthy punishment to Dananjaya. Just an over after taking a hat-trick, the spinner was deposited for six consecutive sixes by Pollard, who celebrated the feat with a simple bow to his teammates in the dugout.

The first six was smashed off one knee over long-on, the second into the sight screen and the third over long-off. He went over midwicket for the fourth and then sent one way back over the bowler’s head for the fifth. The sixth was a nonchalant clip off the pads over deep mid-wicket.

He is only the third batter to ever hit six consecutive sixes in an international over, following South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs in 2007 at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup and India’s Yuvraj Singh the same year at the first ever ICC Men’s T20 World Cup – then known as the World Twenty20.

As it turned out, those were the last runs Pollard scored for the match. The West Indies captain perished for 38 in the next over, trapped in front by Hasaranga. When the spinner repeated the trick against Fabian Allen (0) on the next delivery, it looked like this match was due for its second hat-trick.

Dwayne Bravo survived the hat-trick ball and West Indies managed to get the job done from there with little fuss.

There was one small scare however, with Jason Holder lucky to survive in the eighth over when he was dropped off the easiest of catches at deep mid-wicket. The poor bowler to miss out was Dananjaya, who simply could not stay out of the action.

There would be no more chances for the Sri Lankans to get back into the game, as Holder finished not out on 29 and Bravo on four. Fittingly, Holder closed the chase smashing a six over long-on.

Earlier, Sri Lanka was held to 131/9 after being sent out to bat, with debutant Pathum Nissanka top-scoring with 39 off 34.

After a positive start, the Sri Lankans were slowed down by the fall of Danushka Gunathilaka in the third over for 4. The opener was caught superbly by a diving Pollard at short mid-wicket, handing debutant Kevin Sinclair a maiden T20I wicket.

Niroshan Dickwella was the next batter out, bowled by Holder, who finished with figures of 1/19 off his four overs. The Sri Lankan innings never got going from there, with all six of the West Indies’ bowlers among the wickets and two batters falling run-out. Obed McCoy was the best of the West Indies’ bowlers, taking 2/25 off his four overs, accounting for Dinesh Chandimal (11) and Thisara Perera (1).

Windies looking to be consistent against Sri Lanka – Sinclair

When the West Indies head into battle against Sri Lanka at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua and Barbuda on Wednesday evening in the first of three T20 Internationals, they will be aiming to be consistent in winning games and ultimately the series.This is according to new boy Kevin Sinclair, the young Guyanese right arm off-spinner who is in the team for the first time.

Fresh off a disappointing loss in the CG Insurance Super50 Cup against Trinidad and Tobago Red Force, the youngster is looking to rebound in the series against the Sri Lankans.

Reflecting on his first time selection, Sinclair told The 592 Dugout; “I feel good, I feel really good about being selected to represent the West Indies. I must say I have made my family proud, especially my grandfather. I know the struggle and the time that he put in to train me every day and even in the nights over the years. I have made him proud and that’s all I’ll continue to do”.

Looking ahead to the series, he maintained; “I feel confident heading into my first series. It’s a different environment than I’m accustomed to obviously, I’m looking forward to it, I’ll do my best. The guys here are confident in terms of winning the series. Coach (Phil) Simmons has been beating something into our head; we should start winning cricket games. We have to understand what we need to do in order to win games, how we have to go about winning, that we should be consistent for long periods of time in order to win. So that’s our mindset heading into this series.”

Chris Gayle is back in West Indies colours

The series opener this evening will be the first men’s T20 International at the Coolidge Cricket Ground and with relatively short straight boundaries it could turn out to be a high-scoring contest. Back in West Indies colours is the ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle, who is making a comeback to the side. Also making a comeback after years is fast bowler Fidel Edwards. Both were members of the West Indies team which won the T20 World Cup back in 2012, when they beat Sri Lanka in the final in Colombo.

Match Schedule – start 6pm (5pm Jamaica Time)

Wednesday, March 3: 1st CG Insurance T20I

Friday, March 5: 2nd CG Insurance T20I

Sunday, March 7: 3rd CG Insurance T20I