Can Sri Lanka snap Sammy-led Caribbean resurgence?

DHAKA: In their bid to reach their second successive World T20 final, defending champions West Indies will be looking to put up another clinical performance when they take on a gutsy Sri Lanka, who in turn would be hoping to avenge their loss in the last edition’s summit clash.
Both Sri Lanka and West Indies have had identical victories in their final group league encounters in which they had crushed their respective opponents for paltry scores of less than 100 runs. Both the sides boast of world class spinners, who are winning games on a consistent basis. While Rangana Herath would want to repeat his Chittagong heroics with another superlative effort against the Gayles and the Bravos, the Jayawardenes and the Sangakkaras will be equally wary of the threats that will be posed by Messrs Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree.
West Indies effort has been creditable thus far as Chris Gayle hardly had any role with the bat apart from his half-century against the Australians, which some would say was slow by his standards. But Bravo and skipper Darren Sammy had raised their hands up whenever their team needed them the most.
If Australia match went right down to the wire, the Pakistan team simply had no clue as to what hit them in the final few overs. Sammy has led from the front with his unbeaten knocks of 34 and 42 that had changed the course of the match. Narine and Badree with six and 10 wickets, respectively, have justified their top billings of No. 1 and 2 in the ICC’s List of T20 bowlers.
It will be a test for the Sri Lankan batsmen who haven`t done really well, save the England game, but somehow managed to fly under the radar because of a good spin attack. Mahela Jayawardene, in his last T20 tournament has been his team`s top scorer with 134 runs. The Lankan batting depends on their three senior players – Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan – and all of them need to fire in order to post a good total. Sangakkara, in fact, has had a horrible run so far, scoring just 18 runs from his three innings.
While West Indies have an advantage as they have played all their matches at Mirpur, Sri Lanka will feel better that the dew won`t be a factor here as it has been at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong. West Indies team has been winning matches with the bat between 15th and the 20th over – whether they are chasing or they are setting targets. The Lankan bowlers including their ‘King of Death’ Lasith Malinga need to be aware of the fact how the Caribbeans can change the complexion of the game in the final overs. Chandimal’s men would like to buck that trend.

Chris Gayle: Twenty-20 cricket’s most wanted batsmen, Chris Gayle hasn’t set World T20 edition on fire so far. Barring that innings against Australia, Gayle, the slammer, has looked a shadow of destructive prowess. In the all important semis, Gayle would want to set off upfront in his typical fashion to hand over early advantage to his side.

Kumar Sangakkarra: Not often, we see the classy left handed batsman Kumar Sangakkara having a dry spell with his bat for a stretch of four games. The wicketkeeper batsman hasn’t made runs thus far in the tournament, but cometh the big match, Sangakkarra will be keen to unleash his A game and ensure he signs off the T-20Is with a bang.

1st Semi-Final
Sri Lanka v West Indies
VENUE: Dhaka
TIME: 18:30 IST