The world T20 had its share of upsets, surprises and heartbreaks so far. It is now the business end of the tournament and the first semi finals will see the Calypso Kings of West Indies take on the powerful Sri Lankans, the same two teams which faced off in the finals of the last edition held in Sri Lanka.
West Indies has entered the semi finals from Group 2, which was tougher of the two groups. After playing rather apologetically against the Indians the Windies regained their mojo to win after some strong criticism. The team looked completely galvanized and focused from the time they took on the field against the hosts in their second game. The crucial players started performing and the team looked similar in spirit to the one that won the World T20 in Sri Lanka last time around. The Australian game further enhanced this feeling. Having to chase a big score against the gritty Aussies to stay in the tournament seems to have brought the best among the senior players. This was amply demonstrated by the extraordinary celebrations at the end of the game led by Chris Gayle who has brought gangnam style back in fashion much to the delight of the DJ at the ground. The must win game against Pakistan demonstrated, what a committed Windies team could do. Batting under difficult conditions, they ended up scoring above par score with the captain and vice captain showing some serious form with tremendous hitting. This was followed by a superb bowling performance that blew the winds of the sails for the stunned Pakistani players.
Sri Lanka entered into the semi finals as the winner of Group 1. After winning a tough game against the South Africans, they then went onto annihilate the Dutch. The destruction was so complete and quick that most of the crowd hardly had time to finish the snacks they brought for the first half of the game. They slipped up against the English when they were stuck by “Hale” storm. In a must win game against the Kiwis on a difficult pitch they clawed and crawled to 119. With semi finals and pride at stake, the Lankans turned to Rangana Herath who didn’t disappoint and turned in the third best performance ever in a T20 game and single handedly took the Lankans into semi finals.
Both teams will consider batting as their strong suit. Sri Lankan batting will depend heavily once on their star performer Mahela Jayawadena. He would be hoping that the opening pair of Perera and Dilshan gives the side a good start and that he would have a chance to bat freely rather than try to rescue the batting once again as he has been doing so far. The Lankans will also hope that their middle order comprising of Sangakkara and Chandimal hit some form and provide launch pad for the likes of Mathews and Thissara, to give the ball a heavy tonk.
Windies on the other hand will hope that their opening pair of Dwayne Smith and Chris Gayle once again starts brightly. Not just the Windies but lot of cricket lovers around the world would be turning on to watch the game hoping that there is a Chis Gayle special in waiting. Marlon Samuels will have the job of providing platform for the powerful lower middle order, which has been in tremendous form. Both Bravo and Sammy will be the men to look out for and the chances of Sri Lanka depend on how much they succeed in keeping this pair quiet.
Both the teams will be counting on their spinners to deliver telling spells apart from keeping the batsmen quiet. Winidies will depend heavily on Badree and Narine to deliver the goods. How good these two will perform will have a critical impact on the result of this semi final. They will be hoping for a good supporting act from Santokie who is a specialist T20 bowler and the likes of Russell, Bravo and Sammy.
For the Lankans it will be Rangana Herath and Lasith Malinga, who are expected to do most of the damage. Herath will be hoping to continue from the game against New Zealand and try and prove his detractors that he is the best spinner in the island in post Murali era. Malinga will be crucial against the big hitters of windies. It will be no wonder, if his yorkers and slower balls decide the fate of the game. Sachitra Senanayake with his box of tricks is expected to continue his good performance with support from Mathews and Perera.
The pitch at Mirpur has supported spinners from the first and it has become tougher as the tournament progressed. Both teams would like to win the toss and bat first. With runs on the board and the pressure of scoring second on a turning wicket in a big game is what they will be hoping for. With dew not being a major factor in Mirpur an exciting game is expected.
Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kusal Perera, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Dinesh Chandimal (C), Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Sachithra Senanayake, Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath
West Indies: Dwayne Smith, Chris Gayle, Llendl Simmons, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Darren Sammy (C), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Samuel Badree, Krishmar Santokie
SportzCosmos Prediction: West Indies will win the semi finals and qualify for the finals and are expected to further entertain the audience with their gangnam style celebrations.