Hosts Sri Lanka will take on the power packed favourites West Indies in the finals of the T20 World Cut on October 6th at Colombo. It’s been a great World Cup so far for both the sides and they’ve had their share of ups and downs.
The hosts had a good start with a convincing victory over Zimbabwe. They then lost to South Africa in a match that was shortened to 7 overs due to rain but 1 win from two was enough for them to qualify into the Super 8s. In the Super 8s, they played an epic match against the Kiwis, a game that went into the super over and looked to go the Kiwis’ way until Lasith Malinga rescued the home side and eked out a narrow win. The Lankans then faced the Windies, the team they are going to face in the finals, and an all round display made sure the home side earned a crucial win to get them closer to a semifinal berth. Their next victory came against England which gave them 6 points from 3 games and a comfortable entry into the final four.
The Windies came into the tournament as one of the favourites and have kept their hopes of winning the World Cup alive. They had a shaky start against Australia, a game where they batted first, scored 191 and ended up losing on D/L method. Their second game in the group stage against Ireland was washed out and thus, they came through to the Super 8s as the second team from their group. In the Super 8s, they first faced
They then earned a comfortable victory against Ireland and qualified as the second team from their group. In the Super 8s, they first faced England where Chris Gayle and Johnson Charles went after the English bowling and put up a total that was too much for England. Their second game in the group stage was against Sri Lanka where they looked clueless against the Lankan spinners and were thoroughly beaten. Their most crucial match was against New Zealand with both teams eyeing a semifinal spot. This game too, went down to the super over and Kiwis were at the receiving end yet again! It was a very narrow win for the Windies which gave them a spot in the final four.
The Lankans faced a strong-willed Pakistani side who were hungry for their second T20 World Cup title. But, to Mohammed Hafeez’s disappointment, they were knocked out by the Lankans. Jayawardene played a patient knock of 42 valuable runs in a total of 139 which his bowlers managed to defend. Rangana Herath’s 3 wicket haul helped Sri Lanka restrict Pakistan to 123 and make it to yet another final. Next up, West Indies came up against a disciplined Australia and were in for a tough game. But big hitters Pollard and Gayle took the game away from the Aussies as the Windies piled on 205, the highest score of the tournament and it proved to be too much for the Aussies.
The final on Sunday will be a clash between the Sri Lankan bowlers and the West Indian batsmen. The former has already gotten the better of the latter on a previous occasion in this tournament but a World Cup final is a completely different ball game. Mahela Jayawardene‘s aim will be to get rid of Chris Gayle within the first couple of overs and then shift gears and throw the Windies on the back foot. We saw that happen when these two played in the Super 8s. If Gayle goes early, Windies will be under immense pressure and on a big stage like a World Cup final, they are likely to succumb to it. As far as Darren Sammy is concerned, he will hope his bowlers do well to keep the home side’s batsmen from scoring too freely and then sit back and enjoy some fireworks from Gayle.
Players to Watch
Mahela Jayawardene: The last time he played in a World Cup final, he played one of the finest knocks ever. He will be a very crucial to his side and a captain’s knock could very well hand the home side their first T20 WC title.
Nuwan Kulasekara: This man has to do what he did against the Windies last time- get Gayle early! Once Gayle is gone, Lankans can breathe easy and attack the Windies.
Rangana Herath: Rangana Herath had a brilliant game against Pakistan. Having troubled the Pakistani batsmen with his spin, he will go into this game with a lot more confidence knowing that West Indies struggle a lot more against spin. His four overs will be very important.
Chris Gayle: If this man can blaze away at the start of the day, no one will be able to stop him from dancing the ‘Gangnam style’ all night. Words cannot do justice to this man’s impact and his potential in this format of the game. The simplest way to put it is to say that he will very well be the reason for whichever way the match goes.
Ravi Rampaul: The Lankans have had the tendency to have a slow start. Against Pakistan in the semi-finals it was one of the slowest starts. Ravi Rampaul has done well with the new ball and Darren Sammy will hope this man will get him the early wickets of Lanka’s top three batsmen.
Marlon Samuels: Marlon Samuels has been one of the best all round performers of this tournament. In such a crunch game, if Gayle misfires at the top order, the experience and the calm attitude of this man will come into play.
Prediction: The Windies have been extremely entertaining. They are to cricket what Brazil have been to Football. They enjoy their game and would love a dance move or two after a hard fought match. But in a World Cup final, they are kids compared to the Lankans. Sri Lankans will do anything to avoid another heartbreak in the final. The momentum is slightly towards the Windies but in a big game like a final, the Lankans have the capability to pull it onto their side. Darren Sammy’s boys have lived upto the ‘Favourites’ tag but there is one final test before they take they are Champions. This is a tough one to call. It will be harsh to wish for Lanka to finish second best again , but my heart is with the Windies. I want to see them dance away to glory. This cup belongs to them.