ICC World T20 Semifinal Results: Hailstorm Trumps Gaylestorm as Sri Lanka Top West Indies to Enter Final
By Deepak Vikraman | April 4, 2014 3:30 AM EST
What do you do when your two premier batsmen - Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels - decide to transform from a cheetah into a couple of snails in a must-win game of the World Cup?
Not much, really, as the West Indies, facing the pressure of a sizeable total in the ICC World T20 2014 semifinal, failed to overcome the we-don't-or-can't-find-the-boundaries-innings from Gayle and Samuels, with Mother Nature also deciding to have her say, and pave the way for Sri Lanka to enter another ICC tournament final.
Choosing to bat first, Sri Lanka, thanks to Angelo Mathews (40) and Lahiru Thirimanne (44), got to an at-least-we-have-a-score-to-defend 160 for six in their 20 overs, leaving the West Indies to show resolve and power in reply.
What followed, though, was a disjointed chase, with Gayle setting the tone with a strange innings, while regular wickets kept pegging West Indies back, putting them on the back foot.
West Indies were staring down the barrel on 80 for four in 13.5 overs -- the equation at a need-a-miracle-from-here 81 from 37 deliveries -- with cannot-hit-a-boundary Samuels and Darren Sammy at the crease, before a hailstorm of epic proportions decided to take charge and wash away any chance of a possible Sammy stunner.
The 27-run victory for Sri Lanka via the Duckworth/Lewis method takes them to their third World T20 final, and they will hope it is third time lucky this time, as WI saw the defence of their title end on an anticlimactic note and at the hands of the team they beat in the final in 2012.
West Indies could not have asked for a better first over, chasing a strong total of 160, with Dwayne Smith belting a four and a six off the first two deliveries from Nuwan Kulasekara as the first over went for 17.
However, the team from the Caribbean failed to take advantage of that strong start, as Chris Gayle, yet again, thinking he was playing Test cricket, or believing he needed to be there right until the end, despite his team having some of the fiercest finishers in the game, decided to drop anchor, and then some.
Thirteen balls the big left-hander faced, scoring a mere three runs, with it putting the pressure on Smith as well, and also losing his wicket, playing on off Lasith Malinga.
Smith (17, 14b, 1x4, 1x6) followed suit in the same fifth over from captain fantastic Malinga (2-0-5-2), castling the right-hander. Lendl Simmons was the next man to go, lbw off the first ball from Seekkuge Prasanna, in for Thisara Perera, in the eighth over as Sri Lanka turned the screws.
Marlon Samuels, well, played like the Marlon Samuels of this World T20, unable to find the boundaries, or the singles and twos, or the three, or the sixes, and with it putting the pressure on Dwayne Bravo at the other end to find a couple of fours or sixes every over.
The West Indies were really up against it at the halfway stage of the second innings, needing 108 from 60 balls, and the pressure refused to relent as every time Bravo hit a boundary or two, Samuels (18, 29b, 1x4) at the other end, failed to kick on.
After playing a few wonderful shots to and over the ropes, the pressure, created by Samuels' inability to lay bat on ball, told on Bravo (30, 19b, 3x4 1x6), as the right-hander, looking for another six, flicked one straight to Mahela this-will-not-be-my-final-T20I-match Jayawardene, with Kulasekara taking the wicket.
With West Indies still needed a daunting 84 from 40 deliveries, Mother Nature decided to bring hopes of another great escape to an abrupt end, three deliveries later as the mother of all hailstorms came pelting down.
Earlier, Sri Lanka got out of jail with a couple of nice innings from Lahiru I-have-to-score-runs-after-being-picked-ahead-of-the-skipper Thirimanne and the cool as ice Angelo Mathews.
The start and finish were strong for the Lankans, who chose to keep captain Dinesh Chandimal on the bench, with iffy batting in between threatening to derail their plans of another major final.
Kusal Perera, with Sanath Jayasuriya watching from the stands, and Tillakaratne Dilshan got off to a rollicking start, not letting West Indies' in-form opening bowlers - Samuel Badree and Krishmar Santokie - settle, targeting them with early boundaries.
That plan seemed to be working swimmingly as SL raced to 41 in under four overs, with Perera, in particular, looking in the mood. However, the left-handed Perera (26, 12b, 2x4, 2x6) failed to make full use of yet another strong start, playing on to Santokie, who otherwise had a forgettable game with the ball, in the final ball of the fourth over.
The wheels started to come off for Sri Lanka soon after, with Mahela Jayawardene run out without facing a ball, an over later, while by over seven, the other half of the awesome twosome - Kumar Sangakkara - also fell, outer-edging one back to Badree (4-0-23-1).
With the third wicket, Sri Lanka went from a strong 41 for no loss to 49 for three, as Dilshan and Thirimanne looked to rebuild the base needed for the final assault. The two put a run-a-ball 42 runs, before Dilshan (39, 39b, 2x4, 1x6), still not even remotely back to his best, ran himself out, with Lendl Simmons throwing down the stumps brilliantly from mid-off.
Thirimanne (44, 35b, 3x4, 2x6) took control following the wicket, scoring a few delightful boundaries, giving Mathews the liberty to settle down, before going slam-bang in the final overs. Sri Lanka managed 67 from the last 36 balls, with the last three yielding 39 as Mathews (40, 23b, 3x4, 2x6) found the four-and-six-smashing groove.
The total proved to be more than enough in the end, even if we will never know if WI would have pulled out a massive lion out of the hat had rain decided to wait another 45 minutes or so before charging down.
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