Sri Lanka and West Indies, arguably the two best teams in the competition, have made it to the summit clash. Although from here only one side will walk away with the trophy, both the teams can go away with their heads held high, irrespective of the result on Sunday.
For Sri Lanka, a World Cup win has an ‘almost there but not quite’ feeling in recent years. They made it to the big final in the 2007 50-over version only to run into Adam Gilchrist. Last year, in the same format, the Indians overcame them at home. Lanka had even progressed to the 2009 World T20 only to be undone by an inspired Pakistan outfit. All these losses would have hurt no doubt, and they would be keen to set the record straight. What better place to do it than in their own backyard? As for West Indies, a triumph in an ICC tournament can’t come at a better point of time. It has been nearly two decades since Australia ended their domination in all formats. Since, the Windies have been desperately seeking a reason to celebrate. A World T20 win would give them a much-needed one.
Team Sri Lanka analysis
Apart from playing at home, another factor in Lanka’s favour is that there is no perceivable weakness in any of their departments of the game. At the top of the batting order, they have Mahela Jayawardene who is in imperious form. And, even though Tillakaratne Dilshan struggled in the semi-finals, he would remain a danger man for the opposition. Sri Lanka’s experienced number three Kumar Sangakkara had a short, breezy stay at the crease on Thursday, but he batted with a great deal of authority, which would have pleased the team. The hitting ability of all-rounders Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera can also come in handy.
In the bowling, Lasith Malinga will be the key again. He was in his elements against Pakistan, and if he gets it right against West Indies as well, the hosts might well be on their way to lifting the crown that has eluded them. As always, he will seek support from Nuwan Kulasekara. Significantly, the performance of Ajantha Mendis would be extremely crucial, more so considering the manner in which Windies’ big hitters annihilated Aussie spinners. It would also be interesting to see whether left-arm spinner Rangana Herath maintains his place on the basis of his match-turning effort in the semi-final.
Team West Indies analysis
Chris Gayle has openly challenged Lanka by commenting that this World Cup is theirs. It remains to be seen now whether he can back his words with action. If his innings against Australia was anything to go by, the left-hander opener is tremendously determined to take the trophy back home. Another scintillating knock from him, and Windies could well be on their way to glory. However, Gayle needs to be wary of Malinga and Mendis, as should the remainder of the batting line up. Marlon Samuels and Kieron Pollard smashed the ball exceedingly well against Australia, but the Lanka bowlers would be much tougher to get away. Hence it will be important for Darren Sammy’s men to assess the situation, and bat accordingly.
The final will also be a major challenge for Sunil Narine. He has been effective against most sides, but so was Saeed Ajmal before he ran into Sri Lanka. Few countries play spinners (mystery or no mystery) better that the hosts. As such Narine as well as Samuel Badree could be tested. Being so, the opening burst by Ravi Rampaul may become all that more crucial.
Both sides would believe they have a great chance of lifting the trophy, but on the day, the team which holds it nerves must emerge triumphant.
- By Cricket Analyst