England lose opener to Windies
World Twenty20 champions England began their Super Eight campaign with a 15-run defeat to West Indies at Pallekele.
Eoin Morgan (71no) and Alex Hales (68) did their best to rescue an unlikely victory, in pursuit of 179 for five. But in the end, with 23 required off Marlon Samuels' final over, England had left themselves with just too much to do.
England wrote off their heaviest loss, and lowest total, in this sprint format against India in Colombo on Sunday as a blip.
Tonight, there was a much better performance but more disappointment too after they fell short of a tough but achievable target with 164 for four on a decent pitch.
Johnson Charles (84) and Chris Gayle (58) both clubbed half-centuries, after West Indies won the toss; then England's reply suffered a telling initial stumble, before opener Hales and back-to-form Morgan kept them in the contest with a century stand and seven sixes between them.
England's bowlers already knew all about master blaster Gayle, but might have been a little more surprised by his opening partner Charles.
After a stand of 103, Gayle was first to go. But 23-year-old St Lucian Charles, without a century in any form of professional cricket, stayed the course to record his maiden Twenty20 international 50.
England, by contrast, began their reply by losing two wickets for no runs in the first three balls to Ravi Rampaul - and even though Hales responded with 50 containing five fours and two sixes, and Morgan reached his half-century in a tournament joint-record 25 balls, it was never going to be quite enough.
Charles had earlier hit 10 fours and three sixes, before mistiming another attempted big hit to long-on off Jade Dernbach.
Gayle predictably first signalled his intent with three fours in one over from Dernbach.
The powerplay yielded a near par 47, but without loss, and that proved to be a platform for the Windies openers to up the ante.
Gayle had one minor moment of fortune on 29 when a wrong-footed Morgan, perhaps losing the ball in the bright floodlights, found himself over-committed as the big left-hander pulled Samit Patel high to the boundary.
The Irishman might have had a chance of holding an important catch, had he been able to retreat to the fence, but instead saw the first of three sixes in the over sail over his head.
Those three sixes and six fours took Gayle past 50 in only 29 balls, and the West Indies were in three figures in the 11th over.
England should have had a much-needed breakthrough when Steven Finn put down Charles on 39 off Graeme Swann at long-off.
But England would doubtless have swapped that for what happened off the very next ball, Finn holding his nerve this time to cling on at long-on and see the back of Gayle.
England celebrated appropriately, and soon had number three Samuels cheaply too - caught at point by Morgan as Stuart Broad interrupted the Windies' flow with a wicket-maiden.
Charles was still at large, but England recalled Finn early to test Kieron Pollard with pace - a move that worked instantly, as the big hitter skied a catch to the cover boundary from the first ball of the over to go for just a single.
The openers apart, only Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell managed double-figures - and their last-over assault on Dernbach helped to produce 15 runs, to make the Windies marginal favourites at the interval.
Three balls after it, their position had strengthened somewhat.
Rampaul's double-wicket maiden saw Craig Kieswetter lob a short ball to cover for a second-ball duck, and Luke Wright edge some extra bounce to slip to put the seamer on a hat-trick.
Jonny Bairstow, promoted ahead of Morgan, survived that early crisis.
Hales escaped a 'double-play' on 31 - when he should have been stumped off Samuel Badree, and then run out had a direct hit come in from short fine-leg as he stole a bye.
Bairstow's innings was a particular struggle, ending when he finally hit one well enough down the ground off Gayle but was very well-caught by Pollard running round from long-on.
Hales and Morgan joined forces with little realistic hope of a successful chase but had enough firepower to make the Windies sweat right to the end.