The day we all have been waiting for long is upon us. Who lifts the World Cup this time around is set to be decided this Sunday, with the hosts Sri Lanka, one of the pre-tournament favourites taking on another pre- tournament favourite West Indies. So, in that respect, there haven’t been much upsets in the tournament so far, and with these sides pretty evenly matched, it should be a close contest.
The match starts at 19:00 hours IST at the Premadasa stadium. The wickets have considerably slowed down and henceforth, the trend of batting second seems to have faded. Winning the toss and batting first is the order of the day now.
Sri Lanka have been one of the most consistent sides in the tournament, having lost only 1 game, to the Proteas, in a rain curtailed 7 over affair. When T20 cricket has such unpredictabilities, a 7-over game shouldn’t be given much weightage. Sri Lanka started their campaign brightly, beating Zimbabwe and then the likes of West Indies and New Zealand, followed by knocking the defending champions out of the tournament. They were near flawless in the semi-final against a very strong Pakistani side.
Sri Lanka have got a well settled team and are clicking as a unit. Their batting is led by their ever so reliable captain – Mahela Jayawardene. Dilshan though, doesn’t seem to be in prime form but has got some runs under his belt. Their middle order has been good too with the likes of Jeewan Mendis, Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera chipping in with some useful runs. The only little concern would be the form of Kumar Sangakarra, who hasn’t got much runs, albeit he played 2 decent knocks, Sri Lanka would be hoping he comes to the party just at the right time.
Sri Lankan bowling has undoubtedly been the best in the tournament. They have a very varied attack which could prove to be a menace for any batting side. Mendis has been their star with the ball, having claimed 11 wickets so far in the tournament and has been well supported by the likes of Herath, Mathews, Kulasekara and Lasith Malinga and even Dananjay whenever he played. Malinga has claimed 8 wickets so far in the tournament, 5 of them coming in a single match against the English, hence, his wicket-taking form is in question and would be of concern to the captain. Nowadays, players seem to read him so much better after playing him regularly in the IPL.
West Indies, on the other hand, have had hiccups in the tournament, winning alternate games so far in the tournament, which they would hope to overturn this Sunday to lift the trophy.
West Indies have been rather inconsistent and relied a little too heavily on 2-3 of their players; having lost on occasions they have not fired. Their batting, as was expected, has relied heavily on Gayle and to an extent Samuels, and to be honest, for all the good work Samuels has done so far, he cannot win you games single handedly. Pollard and Bravo have had some cameos, but not consistently enough.
Their bowling is their major concern, with only Narine having taken wickets regularly. They rely on their big lot of part timers like Pollard, Sammy, Samuels, Gayle to roll their arm over and get in some good overs and even take wickets. Pollard is another man who can win a game on his own, hitting some lusty blows, but is largely inconsistent. Being blatant, their bowling is not going to win them any games; they need to bat the opposition out of the game. Given this, it is even more important for them to bat first, rather than have a huge target to chase and put pressure on the likes of Gayle and Samuels.
The last game between these 2 sides is a prime example of this, where Sri Lanka triumphed on account of Gayle’s early dismissal, albeit Samuels got some runs. They couldn’t score much and their bowling was never going to win them the game; Sri Lanka won by 9 wickets.
Sri Lanka would have a slight upper hand going into the match due to the consistency they have shown and the home support, which counts a lot. They have a much more settled team, who are clicking as a unit, unlike West Indies who have been inconsistent and too reliant on their star player Gayle.
Another thing is that West Indies bowling is much reliant on their spin wizard Narine and Sri Lankans are one of the best players of spin bowling; Jayawardene and Sangakkara are second to none in the world when it comes to playing spin.
Although, I feel this might be West Indies’ year and they would finally win a big tournament after their domination in the 70s and early 80s.
‘Behind every successful man, is a woman and Gayle has 3 behind him’ is the joke going all around and this might just be his time. The good thing about this West Indies side is that they seem to be enjoying their cricket and are taking no pressure at all. This might just be West Indies’ year and we will see the rise of the rise of the former Cricketing Giants. This would be the best thing that has happened to cricket in a long-long time.
Players to Watch:
Sri Lanka: Jayawardene, Mendis, Malinga
West Indies: Gayle, Narine, Pollard
Jayawardene v/s Narine
Mendis v/s Gayle
Malinga v/s Pollard
Sri Lanka: Dilshan, Jayawardene, Sangakarra, Mathews, Jeewan Medis, Thirimanne, Perera, Herath, Mendis, Malinga, Kulasekara
West Indies: Gayle, Smith, Samuels, D.J. Bravo, Pollard, Sammy, Ramdin, Russell, Rampaul, Narine, Badree
I would like Sri Lanka to include their mystery spinner Dananjay in place of may be Thirimanne, who hasn’t had any batting in the tournament. The off spinner will take the ball away from Gayle, and on the whole, West Indies aren’t good players of spin bowling.
For the West Indies, I believe, Charles will make way for Smith. Charles hasn’t had much runs, apart from a 75 runs innings. Smith on the other hand, is coming on the back of some good IPL performances and is an excellent fielder; his bowling could be handy too on these slow wickets. Another change that we might see is Russell giving way to Simmons, who can bat up the order and roll his arm over.