DHAKA – World Champions West Indies will face Sri Lanka in the first semi-final of the ICC World Twenty20 tournament at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur tomorrow.
Speaking at a media briefing in Dhaka today ahead of tomorrow’s 9 a.m. encounter against Sri Lanka, captain Darren Sammy said he did not think West Indies had an edge going into the match because of what happened in the final of the previous edition.
Sri Lanka had tied down the West Indies batsmen completely for more than half of their innings in Colombo in the 2012 ICC T20 Final before Marlon Samuels’ counter-attack lifted his side to a title-winning score. Sammy felt, however, that the events of that night would be in the minds of the Sri Lankans.
“Cricket is not about what happens before. It’s [about] what happens on a cricket field on that present day. We defeated them in the World Cup and in the practice game here but they have played some good cricket and we have a lot of respect for them.
“Last final will be at the back of their mind, the practice game will be at the back of their mind. Once West Indies turn up, West Indies are dangerous,” he said.
No team has successfully defended the World T20 title before, but Sammy said West Indies were confident they could become the first side to do so.
“When we left the Caribbean, we had that as the motivation factor for us,” he said.
“In the last World Cup, the mantra was one team, one goal and the mission was to win the World Cup. This year the mantra is the same: One team, one goal, but the mission is to retain the title. It’s something that no team has done before and we are very confident that we can do it.
“Once we play the brand of cricket that we played in the last three games, there is every possibility that we can do it. We have been peaking at the right times [and] doing some good things with our team spirit and our never-say-die attitude. Hopefully, that will be contagious. Hopefully, we have another good semi-final like we did in the last World Cup [against Australia].”
When asked about Rangana Herath’s astonishing return of 5 for 3 against New Zealand, Sammy said it was off-spinners who had troubled West Indies.
“The off-spinners are the ones who have got wickets against us so we don’t mind their left-arm-spinner. Hopefully, we don’t play him as the New Zealanders did. We know what we are going to come across or against, but this bunch of guys in the dressing room are very confident even when everything seems gloomy,” Sammy said.
Sammy was at the helm when the Windies lived up to their favourites tag and won the ICC World T20 two years ago in Sri Lanka. In this tournament, he has led his team’s batting with two match-winning knocks against Australia and Pakistan.
The bowling has been led by experienced leg-spinner Samuel Badree, who is the third-highest wicket-taker in the tournament. He is now the Number 1 ranked bowling in the ICC World T20 rankings.
“We have Number 1 and 2 in our line-up with Sunil Narine and Badree, and Krishmar Santokie has done his bit for us very well. We are aware of the threat of the Sri Lankan batsmen but they must be aware of the threat we bring. They know once West Indies turn up West Indies are dangerous,” Sammy noted.
“We stress a lot on unity and togetherness. When you are batting and the guys in the dug-out believe in you and once you’re there, they know you will come through for the team, moments like this, when your team-mates rally you on.
“When you succeed, you see the excitement and satisfaction, that is motivation. Team spirit and unity are the most important aspects in any set-up. Once we play with that passion the celebrations automatically come out,” Sammy added.
“For me, it’s about enjoying what I do and giving the best for the team. I have really worked hard and the last four years at the helm haven’t been a bed of roses. But I just keep on enjoying what I do for West Indies and it’s good to see the performances coming consistently and enjoying those phases. It has always been about West Indies. It has never been about Darren,” he said.
West Indies will be hoping for openers Dwayne Smith and Chris Gayle to get them off to a positive start after both were dismissed cheaply against Pakistan on Tuesday.
Gayle has yet to explode in the tournament although he has passed 30 in three of his four innings so far. But both he and Smith will be hoping to add to their solitary 50 plus score each so far in the tournament. Samuels has been a disappointment failing in each match and eating up overs with a pedestrian scoring rate. But he enters tomorrow’s game with fond memories of his 2012 encounter with the islanders.
There was some confusion today with respect to the captaincy of the Sri Lanka team tomorrow. They could be led out either by the appointed captain Dinesh Chandimal, his deputy Lasith Malinga or, if rumours are to be believed, Angelo Mathews, the Test and ODI captain.
Chandimal was suspended for their last league game against New Zealand, which Sri Lanka won quite convincingly despite making a low score. Malinga, the designated deputy, led the team in that match but it was quite evident that Mahela Jayawardene called the shots.
With Chandimal available for the semi-final, Sri Lanka are in a quandary. Chandimal’s batting form has gone through a low period since he averaged 44.80 in the 2012-13 season, scoring two hundreds and as many fifties in all formats.
This year he has made 367 runs at an average of 28.23, among which he has scores of 18, 3 and 15 in the three T20 innings, including the only one of the World T20.
But with so much on the line tomorrow Jayawardene is expected to be at the centre of all major decisions taken on the field, irrespective of who hands over the Sri Lanka team sheet to Sammy in the middle.
Sri Lanka (likely) Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kusal Perera, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara (keeper), Dinesh Chandimal/Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Sachithra Senanayake, Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath. West Indies (likely) Dwayne Smith, Chris Gayle, Lendl Simmons, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Denesh Ramdin (keeper), Darren Sammy (captain), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Samuel Badree, Krishmar Santokie.