This world cup has been such a see-saw so far. Over upsets, shock defeats and surprise victories, we have seen the Netherlands make the associate nations proud, Australia fighting hard against Bangladesh to register their solitary win and favorites such as Pakistan capitulating in a heart breaking manner.
All said and done, its cricket after all and therefore it’s only expected that we see the unexpected and the game keeps its tag of throwing out uncertainties that charm even the non-followers and make the followers go gaga over its beauty.
After a glorious fortnight that saw some relentless stroke play, tactful bowling and some mind numbing catches, we are all set to witness the top four sides lock horn against each other in order to stake their claim to kiss the magnificent trophy on Sunday.
Hello everyone and welcome to our build up towards the 1st semi-finals of the T20 World Cup between sub-continental giants Sri Lanka and the defending champions West Indies. While the Lankans might consider themselves favorites going into the contest tomorrow in Dhaka, West Indies will be more familiar with the conditions in Mirpur as Sri Lanka had all their games in Chittagong.
A lot is being said about the differences that both the venues presented in the tournament. While the pitches in Mirpur have been kind to spinners, affording them the luxury of considerable turn and some bounce, the surface at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium (Chittagong) was faster than expected, with little turn for the spinners.
The brown clay differs from the soil used in Mirpur, where the clay constituent is black, and it keeps its character better throughout the day; during the evening, the behavior of black clay can be quite changeable, as seen in how much the scores and results varied between the 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm starts.
Therefore, expect spin to play a major role in both the semi finals. Having said that, both the sides boast of some quality, world class spinners that make us lick our fingers already in great anticipation of what’s in store. It will be interesting to see how a Jayawardene and Sangakkara tackle the guile and variation of a Badree or a Narine.
Equally exciting will be to see how Gayle combats the deliveries that are being bowled on to his pads. He’s been rather uncomfortable with such a strategy that the teams have adopted against him so far in this tournament and it will make for some thrilling watch if Gayle indeed comes out with a way to thwart such deliveries and put them away for runs!
Each team has its strengths and weaknesses, but in a semi finals contest of a world cup, it’s not the skills that matter; it’s more about calming one’s nerves, keeping one’s head still and being street smart in reacting to the dynamic changes on the cricket field.
Strengths: Sri Lanka has one of the most reliable bowling in the competition.
Watch out for Kushal Perrera’s opening dazzle. The youngster screams attention when his bat starts talking. Remember their first game against South Africa and the way he dominated the famed attack of the Proteas? Sri Lanka will hope that it’s his day tomorrow.
It will possibly be the last T20 world cup for both Sangakkara and Jayawardene and therefore expect these champions to press the pedal and give out their best. History bears testimony that more often than not when both of them have clicked together, Sri Lanka has gone on to win almost all their games.
On a surface that will aid spin, we can only expect Mendis and Herath to wreak havoc in opposition’s camp. Of course, the cherry on the cake will be the finish that Malinga almost always provides at the death.
Weakness: Their batting has shown signs of implosion in the tournament.
Sri Lanka’s batting has shown signs of sudden implosion in the tournament. It was surprising to see them implode and capitulate the way they did in the game against the Kiwis. They get jittery in knock out games.
Dilshan’s form has been a problem as he has failed to provide Lankans the kind of starts that he is known for.
Strengths: The crusaders from the Caribbean islands have the best T20 side. They have not played to their potential so far and compared to Sri Lanka they know the conditions in Dhaka better.
Gayle’s rather somber performance so far only gave an opportunity to the likes of Bravo and Sammy to re-discover their own self and get into the T20 rhythm.
West Indies probably has the best combination of spin bowling in the tournament. Merely thinking about a Badree and a Narine on the eve of a contest can give the opposition camp steady bouts of jitters.
Simmons and Samuels lend a lot of steadiness at No.3 and 4 and together the team is a solid unit that appears promising enough to defend their title.
Gayle’s form has been a problem so far in the tournament. Despite getting a half century, West Indies have not seen the domination that one would expect of the giant.
Smith has failed so far as well. Therefore, West Indies has suffered in getting off to a crackling start that they are so used in T20 games.
So it’s going to be a battle between the deft and guile of the spinners on a pitch that’s dry and aids quality spin bowling. This doesn’t mean that one can rule out a high scoring game. There haven’t been too many low-scoring games in Dhaka, apart from Afghanistan getting blown away for 72 or Australia’s 86 all out against India. There were ten 150-plus scores with Pakistan making 191 and 190 against Australia and Bangladesh. Five teams have won chasing in ten games, twice in the last over. But teams that have won batting first have mostly won by big margins – 16, 73, 50, 73 and 84 runs.
Are we ready for this cracker of a game then? Are we ready to embrace a soul soothing journey of some scintillating cricket? Are we all set to witness the pace, thrill and excitement that the semi finals of a World Cup present? Well we better be! The West Indies get set to defend their title and the Lankans gear up to make the best use of their form of late to win their maiden World T20 trophy.
Predicting an outcome to such an even contest is such a gamble. I dare not venture into it. But going by recent form, consistency, their familiarity to the conditions and their bowling prowess at the death which is the envy of most sides, I just get a twitchy feeling that the Lankans must thump the Windies on the morrow.
Let the game begin……