Kusal Perera (left) will have to be at his best while facing up to Samuel Badree
Kusal Perera (left) will have to be at his best, while facing up to Samuel Badree © Getty Images

 

Sri Lanka clash with West Indies in the semi-final of the ICC World T20 2014 on April 3. Both teams were billed as pre-tournament favourites and now they have lived up to that with both of them one win away from the final. It is a repeat of the 2012 final, which West Indies won. Shrikant Shankar illustrates some of the key battles that could decide the T20 World Cup match.

 

Kusal Perera vs Samuel Badree

 

Kusal Perera, the dashing left-handed batsman, is a joy to watch. Some of his shots take you back to the days of Sanath Jayasuriya. The short-arm jabs and flicks look so much alike the legendary Jayasuriya. But Perera has not scored many runs to suggest he is in great form. However,  his 61 off 40 deliveries against South Africa took the game away from the opposition. This is what West Indies have to be wary about, whether or not which team bats first. This is where Samuel Badree comes in. The leg-spinner has taken 10 wickets in only four matches. He opens the bowling as well for the Caribbean team, so, he will directly engage with Perera. A trend in this World T20 has been to play out a few overs from the spinners early on. Perera is sure to take the attack to Badree and try to turn the momentum early in Sri Lanka’s favour. Badree, too, would be relishing this as Sri Lanka do not have many aggressors with the bat after Perera. So, the early wicket of  Perera could give West Indies the advantage.

 

Mahela Jayawardene © Getty Images
The contest between Mahela Jayawardene (above) and Krishmar Santokie will be interesting to watch  © Getty Images

 

Mahela Jayawardene vs Krishmar Santokie

 

Anyway one puts it, Mahela Jayawardene is a class batsman, especially on subcontinent pitches. His record in semi-finals and finals of major ICC events is superior to many contemporaries. He can change the course of a match without much fuss. And soon it would hit the opposition that things are not in control. Up against him is Krishmar Santokie. The left-arm medium-fast bowler has impressed with some clever bowling. He has taken six wickets in four matches and not given away many runs. His economy-rate is a miserly 5.59 in this format. It is not easy facing him, as most are not exactly sure what to expect. But Jayawardene is a genius on these conditions and the contest between the two could be interesting to watch.

 

Kumar Sangakkara vs Sunil Narine

 

This is a battle between Sri Lanka’s best bastman and West Indies’ best bowler. Kumar Sangakkara is another batsman, who can change the course of a match within no time and also without much fuss like Jayawardene. If Santokie’s figures are very good, then Sunil Narine’s are even better. He has not taken many wickets, but that is down to the opposition batsmen’s fear of losing their wicket to the wily spinner. With the same action, he can spin the ball both ways and that makes him very dangerous. He has six wickets in four matches at an economy-rate of 4.50. The best take on  the best in this contest. It has to be mouth-watering for the neutrals.

 

Angelo Mathews vs Darren Sammy

 

This battle is between the genuine all-rounders in both sides. It may not be a direct contest between the two, but what they do with both bat and ball, could decide the match. Angelo Mathews has not set the World T20 alight so far, but he is a vital cog in the Sri Lankan line-up. One can expect him to bowl four overs if needed and also score quick runs in the middle-order. He does not need much time to settle in and that is an asset for Sri Lanka. But someone who is better than him is West Indies captain Darren Sammy. He is the only player in this tournament who doesn’t much time to get his eye in. Sammy has won West Indies two matches against Australia and Pakistan with some unbelievable lower-order batting. He has struck 12 fours and five sixes in the World T20 so far. His average is a mighty 101.00 and his strike-rate is a ridiculous 224.44.

 

 

Sachitra Senanayake vs Chris Gayle

 

This contest can decide the tie. Sachitra Senanayake is not in the same class as the other spinners in this semi-final match. But his economy-rate is only 5.00. That can change in one match alone if Chris Gayle is batting. Twenty20s (T20s) most exciting batsman Gayle has not lit up this tournament. But the law of averages might come into play in this match. If Gayle gets going, there is hardly any bowler in world cricket who can stop him. His flicks sail high and deep into the stands. If Senanayake has a mildly off day and Gayle has a ‘good’ day, then it can get very demoralising for the spinner. If anything this World T20 has missed, then it is one of ‘Gayle’s Storms’. But if Sri Lanka and Senanayake can get him out early, then the entire momentum of the tie could be in their favour.

 

 

Rangana Herath vs Dwayne Bravo

 

After an extraordinary bowling performance against New Zealand, Rangana Herath is sure to play in the Sri Lankan team. His unreal figures of five for three destroyed the New Zealand batting. Herath is a left-arm spinner and a quality one at that. He will turn the ball away from the right-handers and this is where Dwayne Bravo can be more useful to the West Indies. Bravo’s willingness and ability to hit inside-out over cover can hurt Sri Lankan and Herath. On the flip side, if Bravo does not connect properly, then then West Indies could be in trouble.

 

 

Lasith Malinga vs Marlon Samuels

 

Last but definitely not the least, the battle between Lasith Malinga and Marlon Samuels should be something many have been eagerly anticipating ever since the 2012 final. It is common perception that only India’s Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni play Malinga the best. But two years ago, Samuels took Malinga to the cleaners. Malinga had an economy-rate of 13.50 in that match and that turned the tie for West Indies, who won the tournament. Neither Malinga nor Samuels have had great tournaments, but it could all change in the semi-final. If Malinga gets it right, there is not much anyone can do. But Samuels is that unique quality, who can stand up and be counted on a big occasion.

 

ICC World T20 2014 schedule: Match time table with venue details

 

(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)