MIRPUR: In a bid to reach their second successive World Twenty20 final, defending champions West Indies will on Thursday (today) lock horns with Sri Lanka, who in turn would be hoping to avenge their loss in the last edition’s summit clash. One can expect a good encounter as both teams have a lot in common going into the big semifinal clash on Thursday. Sri Lanka and the West Indies have had identical victories in their final group league encounters in which they crushed their respective opponents for paltry scores of less than 100 runs. Both the sides boast of world class spinners, who are winning games on a consistent basis. Sri Lanka have good memories of the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium as they lifted the Asia Cup here not even a month ago.
As Darren Bravo rightly said, “They have played a lot more games in Bangladesh than West Indies.” But the Windies have a solid Twenty20 side with all its bases covered despite the absence of Kieron Pollard. Their effort has been creditable as explosive batsman Chris Gayle hardly had any role with the bat apart from his half-century against Australia, which some would say was slow by his standards. But Dwayne Bravo and skipper Darren Sammy rose to the occasion whenever their team needed them the most. The duo led the Windies in their wins against Australia and Pakistan, with Sammy scoring unbeaten knocks of 34 and 42, respectively.
Meanwhile, spinners Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree with six and 10 wickets, respectively, have justified their top billings of No. 1 and 2 in the ICC’s list of T20 bowlers. It will be a test for the Sri Lankan batsmen who haven’t done really well, save the England game, but somehow managed to fly under the radar because of a good spin attack. Mahela Jayawardene, who is playing in his last T20 tournament, has been his team’s top scorer with 134 runs.
The Lankan batting depends on their three senior players - Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan - and all of them need to fire in order to post a good total. Sangakkara, in fact, has had a horrible run so far, scoring just 18 runs from his three innings. It will be a test of character for young Dinesh Chandimal as he prepares to lead the side in his biggest match so far. Chandimal himself has not got a proper opportunity to bat so far and will be itching to perform on a big stage on Thursday.
While West Indies have an advantage as they have played all their matches in Mirpur, Sri Lanka will feel better that the dew won’t be a factor here as it has been in Chittagong. The Lankan bowlers, including Lasith Malinga, need to be wary of the fact that how the West Indies can change the course of play in the final overs.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (captain), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kusal Perera, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal, Seekkuge Prasanna, Ajantha Mendis, Nuwan Kulasekara, Chaturanga de Silva.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (captain), Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith, Lendl Simons, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Andre Russell, Samuel Badree, Sunil Narine, Krishmar Santokie, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Fletcher, Sheldon Cotterell, Johnson Charles.
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