Sri Lanka and West Indies will replay the 2012 final for a spot in the final in the first semi-final of the World Twenty20. The match takes place in Dhaka on Thursday.
Venue: Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur
Date: Thursday, April 1
Start time: 1 a.m. GMT
Weather: The forecast on Accuweather looks okay, with a few scattered thunderstorms forecast. The weather will be hot with temperatures in the mid-20 degree Celsius throughout the evening.
It's going to be a spin-filled semi-final between the West Indies and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka twirled their way into the last four thanks to a stunning performance by Rangana Herath against New Zealand. West Indies, meanwhile, strolled through by thrashing Pakistan with both Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine doing the business with the ball.
With the Dhaka tracks now starting to really turn, expect a tasty treat for fans of spin.
The match is also a repeat of the final from the 2012 edition, which the West Indies won. Incidentally, that was also West Indies' only ever win over Sri Lanka in the T20 format. But things have changed since then and both teams have a lot to prove.
For Darren Sammy, it's the opportunity to show that he is a very effective captain—and finisher—in the shortest format of the game, even if he continues to struggle in Tests. Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene will want to go out on a high, with their retirements from the format due at the end of the tournament. Sri Lanka will be without captain Dinesh Chandimal, who pulled out of the fixture. Lasith Malinga will captain in his place, as reported by ESPNCricinfo.
With the evening starts, dew could very well be a factor both sides will have to contend with, but in a tournament where that has been a recurring subplot, it may not matter at all on Thursday. West Indies' self-belief is a major factor, perhaps the biggest. In their win over Pakistan, Sammy and Dwayne Bravo rescued the team from 81-5 with almost three-quarters of their innings gone to eventually post 166. Bravo told an ICC press conference that the team knows how to play the T20 game.
We've proved ourselves, in Twenty20 cricket we know how the game plays. If you take the game right down to the end, anything is possible, as long as we don't give up and keep faith and have that self-belief that if we bat 20 overs, we're going to get a decent total. But we have to bat 20 overs, so at no point did we let what happened in the middle overs get the better of us. That comes with experience and self-belief.
That self-belief will be important against a Sri Lankan side who is equally confident and full of match-winners. Should the rain stay away, a tasty contest awaits and the Windies are gunning for all the glory, according to Chris Gayle's Twitter account anyway.
WORLD CHAMPIONS - DOUBLE OR NOTHING. #BENG— Chris Gayle (@henrygayle) April 1, 2014
"Beng," indeed. Those who can shelve their snobbery and enjoy the T20 format for what it is—and there have been some terrific matches—are in for a treat.
There is no way Sri Lanka can omit Rangana Herath from the semi-final. The last two T20 games he has played have both been knockouts. Once in the Super 10 against New Zealand in Chittagong in this tournament and before that, in the 2012 semi-final, against Pakistan. Both times, he bowled out of his skin. Clearly a bowler who thrives under pressure, Herath is one of the key men for Sri Lanka and to go into the contest without him would be nothing short of foolish.
Samuel Badree has been the West Indies' most effective bowler. He has the most wickets—10—and the best strike rate, having taken a wicket once every 9.6 balls in the tournament. He has also just become the No. 1-ranked bowler in T20is. Even if the batting flops, there will be belief that the Windies can spin themselves to victory with Badree and Sunil Narine in their midst.
Darren Sammy (c), Samuel Badree, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Krishmar Santokie, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith
Ajantha Mendis, Suranga Lakmal, Dinesh Chandimal, Thisara Perera,Kumar Sangakkara (w/k), Lahiru Thirimanne, Nuwan Kulasekara,Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lasith Malinga, Chaturangade Silva, Rangana Herath, Angelo Mathews, Kushal Perera, SeekkugePrasanna, Sachithra Senanayake