An Unknown Author
Sri Lanka progressed through to the World Twenty20 final on Thursday, defeating holders West Indies by 27 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis method after a torrential downpour brought an early end to proceedings in Dhaka. West Indies had reached 80 for four off 13.5 overs in pursuit of a victory target of 161 when the players were forced from the pitch by a heavy rain and hail storm.
Such was the impact of the storm, there was no chance of further play in the semi-final and play was called off with Sri Lanka well ahead on DL. The result means Sri Lanka gain revenge for their defeat to West Indies in the 2012 final and will have the chance to win their first World Twenty20 crown when they face either India or South Africa in the final.
West Indies needed another 81 runs with 37 balls remaining when the heavens opened, and while they were underdogs at that stage, big-hitting captain Darren Sammy had just arrived at the crease to join the established Marlon Samuels (18 not out off 29 balls). Sammy has built a reputation as a devastating finisher in this form of the game, but he had no time to make an impact after coming in to replace Dwayne Bravo as the weather ruined what could have been an exciting finale.
Earlier, Lahiru Thirimanne and Angelo Mathews had helped Sri Lanka post a decent total of 160 for six with rapid 40s lower down the order. The two-time losing finalists had been given a flying start by Kusal Perera, who struck two sixes and two fours in making 26 off 12 balls, but then West Indies came roaring back with three big breakthroughs in quick succession.
Perera was bowled by Krishmar Santokie, Mahela Jayawardene was smartly run out without facing a ball and then Kumar Sangakkara was caught and bowled by Samuel Badree as Sri Lanka slumped from 40 without loss to 49 for three. Sri Lanka were forced to rebuild after that and, despite Tillakaratne Dilshan’s run-a-ball 39 at the top of the order, they looked set to have to settle for a moderate score.
That was until Thirimanne, firstly, and then Mathews added some impetus to push Sri Lanka beyond 150. Both players struck three fours and two sixes in their innings, with Thirimanne scoring 44 off 35 balls before falling with the total on 121 while Mathews made 40 off 23 – most of which came in an onslaught that saw Sri Lanka add 32 off the final two overs.
That left the momentum with Sri Lanka, but West Indies looked set to wrestle it back immediately as Dwayne Smith smashed Nuwan Kulasekara for 10 off the first two balls of their reply. However, that promising start was wrecked by Lasith Malinga as he bowled both Chris Gayle and his opening partner Smith in the space of five balls as the Windies slipped to 28 for two at the end of the fifth over.
Lendl Simmons could only make four before he fell to Seekkuge Prasanna’s first delivery, but Samuels and Bravo looked to be steadily setting their side up for a late charge before things went awry. First Bravo departed for a 19-ball 30 and, before Sammy had even had a chance to face a ball, heavy rain forced the teams off and ultimately brought about an end to the contest and to the Windies’ title defence.
1. Speaking as a Sri Lankan of Bajan background I find the expectation that Sammy could produce another miracle quite mind-boggling. The target of 80 runs in 6.1 overs must be placed within a context where Malinga, Prasanna and Senanayake had 2 overs each in hand.
2. No review should fail to mention the superb fielding efforts of the sri Lankans and the fact that they out-performed the West Indies — even the West Indies — on the day in this field
3. For far more insightful reviews see Andrew Fidel Fernando: “Sri Lanka book another final spot; holders out,” …. http://www.espncricinfo.com/world-t20/content/current/story/733939.html
4. Equally enlightening is the overview from a Bangladeshi analyst who had the luxury of seeing Sri Lanka play versus Bangladesh and then the other teams in the Asia Cup over a long period, namely Mohammad Isam: “Sri Lanka thrive before the storm” …. http://www.espncricinfo.com/world-t20/content/current/story/734327.html