October 7, 2012, Colombo’s R. Premadasa Stadium is jam packed as the stage is set for the finals of 2012 ICC World T20. The hosts Sri Lanka took on the mighty West Indies to earn the bragging rights to be called as the T20 World Champions. The fans of both the teams were in full flow and much to the delight of the Lankan supporters, their bowlers made some early inroads as they reduced the windies to 14-2 in the first six overs with Chris Gayle back in the pavilion for a 16 ball 3. Then the world saw a spirited fight back led by Marlon Samuels that helped the windies to reach a total of 137 in twenty overs before their bowlers restricted the Lankan batsmen for a just 101 and thereby winning the tournament.
Two years down the line, both the teams face each other once again but this time in Mirpur, Bangladesh and both the teams fight each other for a spot in the finals. Coming off from a victory in the virtual quarter-final clashes, both the teams look in good shape ahead of the first semi-finals which is scheduled to take place on Thursday. Windies will look to continue their impressive show while Lanka will look to seek revenge for the 2012 loss. On the whole, an exciting clash is waiting for the cricket fraternity. Here is what both the teams have in store ahead of the all-important semis.
Head-to-Head in T20’s: Sri Lanka and West Indies have faced off each other 5 times in the past and all these matches took place in the previous versions of the World T20’s. Sri Lanka has the upper hand by winning four of them while West Indies has won only once against the Asian rivals.
Pitch Report: The wickets at the Sher-E-Bangla stadium has been aiding the spinners since start of 2014 ICC World Twenty20. Both the teams are packed with some world class spinners in their side which makes the tie much more exciting.
Weather Report: The weather might not be a concern for the game but the dew is expected to cause some problems for the bowlers as the game moves on. So it is likely that the skipper who wins the toss will opt to field first.
Straight from the Dugout: Sri Lanka will have their regular skipper Dinesh Chandimal back for the semis after he missed the previous encounter due to a suspension while windies do not have any headaches with the team selection.
Sri Lanka will look to win the tournament at any cost as it will be a fitting farewell for their stalwarts Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara who are set to retire from this format after the end of the 2014 ICC World T20. Their campaign received a reality check against the kiwis and were rescued by Rangana Herath who picked up 5 wickets and won the game for the Lankans. It has been a team effort for the Lankans as every member of the team chipped in with useful contributions by some way or the other. Their only worry should be the pale patch of their opener Dilshan who is yet to show the world what he is capable of. Thisara Perera too has not been upto the mark and the Lankans will hope for Perera to come good if they see any chance of making it to the finals. The Lankans should not take the windies lightly as they have enough firepower in them to beat the Lankans. If Lanka manage to tackle Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree, then they have a fair chance of winning the match.
Sri Lanka Possible Playing XI: Kusal Perera, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Sachitra Senanayake, Rangana Herath.
After losing their opening game against India, West Indies regrouped and became a force to reckon with. Credits must be given to Aussie All-Rounder James Faulkner for spurring on the men from Caribbean which made them show their true colours. Like Sri Lanka, the West Indies too reached the semis courtesy their team effort. Their bowling has been their strength with the likes of Narine, Badree and Santokie doing the bulk of bowling works. On the other hand, the form of their openers Smith and Gayle should worry the team management. Both of them are explosive and are yet to fire in this tournament. Smith is said to be a big match player and tomorrow might be the day for both the openers to come good and demolish the Lankans. Playing Lasith Malinga will be key for the West Indians to earn a place in the finals.
With both the teams looking strong, it is very difficult to predict the winner. But I’ll put my money on West Indies making it to the finals.
Chris Gayle is due for a big knock and Thursday might be the day for the big Jamaican to set the tournament on fire.
Dwayne Smith is a big match player and he has shown his class in the past. So it is likely that Smith will have a good time out in the middle.