The 2014 World Twenty20 Super 10 group stages came to an end on Tuesday, with West Indies becoming the last team to join India, Sri Lanka and South Africa in the semi-finals of the biannual tournament.
Favourites such as Australia and Pakistan were sent packing as spin bowling took over proceedings in the final days of competition, and with all four remaining teams boasting deep groups of bowlers, these last three matches should provide spectators with a ton of high-quality action and the drama that is inherent to T20 cricket.
All statistics used are courtesy of ESPN cricinfo, unless stated otherwise.
|WT20 Remaining Schedule|
|April 3||1 p.m. BST/9 a.m. ET||Semi-final 1||Sri Lanka v West Indies||Sky Sports 3|
|April 4||1 p.m. BST/9 a.m. ET||Semi-final 2||India v South Africa||Sky Sports 3|
|April 6||1 p.m. BST/9 a.m. ET||Final||TBD||Sky Sports 3|
Semi-final 1: Sri Lanka v West Indies
Live stream: Sky Go app (subscription required)
Key stat: Kumar Sangakkara, 18 total runs in four matches
Both teams qualified for the semi-final thanks to all-or-nothing wins over New Zealand and Pakistan respectively, and if those two matches were any indication, we could be headed for one of the lowest scoring outputs in T20 history.
One day after Rangana Herath put together one of the greatest bowling performances the sport has ever seen, Samuel Badree showed the world he's not half-bad as a bowler either.
The Windies' veteran took three Pakistan wickets and surrendered only 10 runs in four overs for a sensational economy rate of 2.50, leading a unit that dominated one of the tournament's most explosive groups of batsmen.
Herath's numbers easily topped those of Badree, though, with five wickets in 3.3 overs and just three runs and two maidens, for a ridiculous economy rate of .85.
West Indies currently have three players with more than 100 runs in this tournament (Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy and Dwayne Smith), with the three combining for 349 total runs.
In contrast, Sri Lanka's three top runs scorers (Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews and Tillakaratne Dilshan) have only managed to score a combined 269 runs as top batsmen such as Sangakkara (four matches, 18 runs) and Thisara Perera (four matches, 47 runs) have so far failed to live up to their lofty standards.
The Windies' production has mostly come from their top batsmen, whereas Sri Lanka have won matches with runs spread more evenly throughout the lineup. In a battle of lethal in-form spin bowlers, the advantage usually lies with the more balanced team.
If Sangakkara gets going against West Indies and the rest of the team keeps up the current production, this tie will be over in the blink of an eye.
Semi-final 2: India v South Africa
Live stream: Sky Go app (subscription required).
Key stat: Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have combined for 317 runs
India are the last remaining unbeaten team in this tournament, and it's easy to see why. The Men in Blue have dominated all opposition so far and are heavy favourites going into the knockout stages, with the Proteas being the team's latest obstacle on the path to the WT20 crown.
The team has been excellent in every facet of the game, and some superb spin bowling has laid the groundwork for every single result, but it has been the partnership of Kohli and Sharma that has really caught the eye. India seem to score almost at will, and no one scores more than these two batsmen.
But South Africa haven't exactly been shy for runs either, with Jean-Paul Duminy (142), Hashim Amla (163) and AB De Villiers (119) leading the way. Both teams clearly boast powerful batting lineups, so it could be the bowlers who make the difference.
Imran Tahir has the lowest economy of all South African bowlers, with 6.31. Counting Mohit Sharma (5.26), who has only bowled in two overs, India have four players currently beating that mark. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (4.33), Ravichandran Ashwin (4.76) and Amit Mishra (5.5) have all been consistently excellent this tournament.
India have preferred to chase in this year's WT20, and even Pakistan Cricket seems to think the formula makes the Men in Blue virtually unbeatable:
If the Proteas can dismiss one of Kohli or Sharma early, and their bowlers can step up and improve on the current numbers, the team could put India in an unfamiliar position and force the upset.
But if both batsmen get going in their usual fashion, India's bowlers should win the battle quite easily.
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