West Indies, and indeed, Sri Lanka, will be hoping to put one foot into the ICC World T20 semi-finals with another win when they meet at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium tomorrow morning.
Sri Lanka registered a hard-fought win over New Zealand in their opening super eight game, while West Indies saw off a determined challenge from defending champions England to win by 15 runs. Another win will more or less seal a spot for the victors.
West Indies came into the super eights without a win under their belts but soon set the record straight with a morale-boosting win against England. Johnson Charles and Chris Gayle sparkled for the West Indies but they will be concerned by their power packed middle-order not capitalizing on the start provided.
Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy and Kieron Pollard all added just 18 runs off 24 balls, hurting their chances of posting in excess of 190. Only Charles’ brilliant effort after the departure of Gayle saw WI reach a good target and Sammy’s men will hope it was just a one-off incident.
West Indies will have a lot to worry on the bowling front as they struggled to stamp their authority and put the game to rest in spite of having the defending champions in deep trouble early on. The mystery spin of Sunil Narine was not that effective while Ravi Rampaul too faltered after starting well. But they will be happy with the bowling of Gayle and Samuel Badree who were instrumental in checking England’s progress.
Sri Lanka’s performance in their game against New Zealand mirrored West Indies’ against England. Their bowlers struggled, the openers sizzled, while the middle order failed to deliver what was expected of them.
The Sri Lankan bowlers were carted around the ground by the New Zealand top order and the hosts will hope there is no repeat against the likes of Gayle and Pollard. Ajantha Mendis was woeful in the last game and Mahela Jayawardene will have think hard about including him for the next game. Akila Dananjaya impressed in his first outing and would be expected to hold his place for the second Super 8 game. However, his inclusion will depend on his health as he was struck a fierce blow in the face when the Kiwis’ Rob Nichol drove a delivery back to him. He has been diagnosed with a fracture of the left cheekbone.
While batting, Sri Lanka were put in a comfortable position thanks to their openers. Tillakaratne Dilshan looked in fine form while Jayawardene’s class was also on display. The hosts will be eager for the openers to carry on in the same vein. Their worry will be their middle order. Should the openers fail, much will depend upon Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews. The duo were unable to make much of an impact in the last game and saw the game slip away from them before they eventually managed to win the in the Super Over.
Both the batsman have not had the best of tournaments and that could prove to be Sri Lanka’s undoing during this world cup.
The two who are expected to feature most in the match are Gayle and Lasith Malinga.
The big hitting Jamaican has already showcased his class with some superb knocks and he looks set for more. Sri Lanka will be wary of the threat he carries and will want to see his back early.
Malinga will be key to Sri Lanka’s fortunes in the super 8s and the Islanders will be eager for the right-arm fast bowler to show why he is renowned as the best limited overs bowler in the world.
The match starts at 10 a.m.