Hosts Sri Lanka face the West Indies in the two teams' second Super Eights match of the tournament. There is much at stake for both sides, with the winner potentially sewing up a place in the semi finals.
Sri Lanka v West Indies
Sri Lanka pulled off a nerve-wracking one-over eliminator win against New Zealand in the first Super Eight game and while the confidence from so tight a win was a welcome boost after the crushing defeat to South Africa, the fact the middle order struggled for the second game in a row will worry captain Mahela Jayawardene. Granted the seven-over shootout against South Africa is a harsh judge of present form but the failure of Jeevan Mendis, Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera to fire the home side to victory against West Indies, after an excellent opening partnership (Jayawardene (44) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (76) put on 80), is not a good sign. Another veteran, Kumar Sangakkara, will also be looking for runs, after failing against both South Africa and New Zealand.
With the ball, Jayawardene will look to spinners Ajantha Mendis and Akila Dananjaya, if the latter plays; the debutant picked up 2/32 from four overs against the Kiwis. The pitch at Pallekele could well offer something for the spinners and Mendis, who was unplayable against Zimbabwe (6/8 off four overs) will look forward to being back among the wickets in this game. The seamers have had a quiet tournament so far, with Nuwan Kulasekara, surprisingly, the pick of the bunch with 3/58 from his eight overs in three games. The fiery Lasith Malinga has been overshadowed and has only three wickets from three games so far.
The West Indies came into the tournament as only an outside bet for the title but all the attention on a potentially über-destructive batting line-up. The likes of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith, Johnson Charles, Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy are all individually capable of posting massive scores and should any combination of them fire together, as they did in their first game against Australia (191/8 in 20 overs), they can make life very difficult for the bowling side.
Gayle is undoubtedly the key though... and the bad news for Sri Lanka is that he is in good form. A 54 off 33 balls against the Aussies was followed by 58 off 35 against England (the match against Ireland was rained out). The worse news for Jayawardene is that the rest of the West Indies batting is decent touch as well - Samuels hit 50 off 32 against Australia and young Charles a stunning 84 off 56 against England. Consistency is again the problem though. Samuels followed his 50 in the first game with two runs against England and Charles' big knock was preceded by 16 against Australia. Jayawardene has his work cut out for him though. That West Indies batting is strong and deep.
The visitors' bowling has improved by leaps and bounds since the first game - when Australia hit 100 off 9.1 overs to win by the Duckworth/Lewis method. Ravi Rampaul was particularly awful, conceding 23 runs from seven balls and Samuels was no better, giving away 22 from the one over he bowled... and Australia won by 17 runs. Fidel Edwards and Sunil Naraine have promised but delivered only in patches, with the former dropped for the England game. His replacement, Samuel Badree, was superb but wicket-less, finishing with 0/20 from four overs. Rampaul returned to claim 2/37 in that game and will likely retain his place in the side, with Badree, ahead of Edwards.
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