Twenty20 may be cricket reinvented for the young in terms of spectator appeal but among those revelling in its qualities on the field, age is clearly irrelevant. Sanath Jayasuriya, for example, will celebrate his 40th birthday nine days after the final of this competition. Over the course of a joyous hour and three minutes here yesterday, it appeared the game had been created just for him.
In contrast with his mild demeanour away from the game, Sri Lanka's most prolific one-day batsman has never been reluctant to unleash his aggressive side at the crease, where he combines technique with power. His scores lately, after a quiet stint in the Indian Premier League, have offered little hint of form yet, with no little help from Tillakaratne Dilshan, he led his side in a demolition of the West Indies from which they were never likely to recover.
Dilshan's 47-ball 74 was his second half-century of the tournament and contained not one but two successful executions of the overhead scoop for four that had added to Australia's humiliation here on Monday evening.
But, in a match of no consequence for the shape of the Super Eight stage, it was Jayasuriya who provided an enraptured crowd with consolation for Chris Gayle's absence after the West Indies captain decided to rest his injured knee.
His 47-ball 81 was remarkable in its quality and range, encompassing 10 fours and three sixes, some subtle, some classical, but often propelled with brute force. Fidel Edwards – two overs for 37 runs – conceded two of the maximums, the first lofted over the fielder at deep midwicket, the second boomed into the crowd square on the off side. "If you are playing well, age doesn't really matter," Jayasuriya said afterwards. "I'm naturally aggressive so this sort of cricket suits me."
It was only when, inspired by Dilshan's example, he tried to improvise that things went wrong, his attempt to reverse-sweep Lendl Simmons resulting in him being leg before.
Kieron Pollard, who went for 45 runs in three overs, suffered heavily from Dilshan's attentions as the opening partnership put on 124, a record for Sri Lanka in this form of cricket and enough, effectively, to lay the foundation for victory, despite the success of the medium pacer Simmons in taking four wickets for 19 in his three overs.
Otherwise, West Indies' bowling was indisciplined, their fielding often slack. Ramdin spoke afterwards of taking "positives" into the Super Eight stage but they were hard to spot on the field.
They began well, reaching 56-1 after five overs, but after Lasith Malinga bowled Andre Fletcher, Ajantha Mendis removed Xavier Marshall and Shivnarine Chanderpaul and though Dwayne Bravo (51) and Ramnaresh Sarwan fashioned a recovery, their 77-run partnership was just too slow.
* India strolled to a eight-wicket win over Ireland, restricting them to 112-8 in a match reduced to 18-overs-a-side by rain. An opening stand of 77 between Gautam Gambhir (37) and Rohit Sharma (52 not out) then set up a victory secured with 15 balls to spare.Reuse content