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By Kushan Sarkar
Mirpur: Apr 2, 2014
In their bid to reach their second successive ICC World T20 final, defending champions West Indies will be looking to put up another clinical performance when they take on a gutsy 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 semi-final clash.
Both Sri Lanka and West Indies have had identical victories in their final group league encounters in which they had 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. While Rangana Herath would want to repeat his Chittagong heroics with another superlative effort against the Gayles and the Bravos, the Jayawardenes and the Sangakkaras will be equally wary of the threats that will be posed by Messrs Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree.
Sri Lanka have good memories of the Shere-e-Bangla Stadium here as they lifted the Asia Cup at this very ground not even a month ago.
As Darren Bravo rightly said, “they have played a lot more games in Bangladesh than West Indies”.
But West Indies are a solid Twenty20 side which has all its bases covered despite the absence of Kieron Pollard.
Their effort has been creditable as Chris Gayle hardly had any role with the bat apart from his half-century against the Australians, which some would say was slow by his standards.
But Bravo and skipper Darren Sammy had raised their hands up whenever their team needed them the most. The duo has earned two tremendous wins against quality oppositions with their willow. If Australia match went right down to the wire, the Pakistan team simply had no clue as to what hit them in the final few overs.
Sammy has led from the front with his unbeaten knocks of 34 and 42 that had changed the course of the match. Narine and 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, in his last T20 tournament has been his team’s top scorer with 134 runs.
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 tomorrow.
While West Indies have an advantage as they have played all their matches at Mirpur, Sri Lanka will feel better that the dew won’t be a factor here as it has been at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong.
West Indies team has been winning matches with the bat between 15th and the 20th over — whether they are chasing or they are setting targets.
The Lankan bowlers including their ‘King of Death’ Lasith Malinga need to be aware of the fact how the Caribbeans can change the complexion of the game in the final overs. James Faulkner and Umar Gul were taught a lesson by Sammy and Bravo earlier in this tournament. And Chandimal’s men would like to buck that trend.
The most interesting addition to the team is left-arm seamer Krishmar Santokie, who has also kept things tight with the new ball. Not blessed with a lot of pace, the seamer has got the ball to swing both ways with a round arm action which many batsmen are finding it difficult to pick up.
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