FINAL PREVIEW: Windies United
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, CMC – West Indies captain Darren Sammy says despite the convincing nature of his side’s semi-final victory, they will have to improve even further if they are to beat Sri Lanka in the World T20 final on Sunday.
The Caribbean side will be chasing their first World title in eight years when they face the unbeaten hosts at the R Premadasa Stadium at 7 pm (9:30 am Eastern Caribbean time/8:30 am Jamaica Time).
Sri Lanka will enter the contest as heavy favourites and with overwhelming partisan support but Sammy said West Indies would be looking to rain on the hosts’ parade.
“We expect that [huge crowd support for Sri Lanka]. If we were home, the same thing would happen if we were in the finals,” Sammy said.
“The crowd will be behind Sri Lanka but the belief in the dressing room is that we’ve done what we’ve had to do to get to the final and once we get there, we’ll probably have to bring our A-plus game.
“We needed our A-game to beat Australia and we have to play a touch better to beat Sri Lanka, and we believe we can do that.”
West Indies powered their way into the final with a crushing 74-defeat of Australia in Friday’s semi-final. Their much vaunted batting line-up finally clicked with awesome repercussions, shocking the Aussie attack to compile 205 for four. In reply, Australia could only manage 131 all out.
Sri Lanka have been the form team of the tournament, marching imperiously through the preliminaries and Super Eight second round, before beating Pakistan by 16 runs in a low-scoring semi-final on Thursday.
With the country already gearing up to celebrate their team’s triumph, Sammy said West Indies had plans of their own.
“We will be looking to spoil that party. There are two teams in the final. Sri Lanka are undefeated and we’ve peaked at the right time. We want to have our own party and the Caribbean people they know how to party so we would enjoy partying with them,” Sammy pointed out.
“Obviously playing at home they know the conditions very well so I just hope we get a good cricket wicket where batsmen can enjoy playing their strokes and there’s a little something for the bowlers.”
He added: “Whatever we get, we just have to go out there and execute. We’re going to focus on them but we’re going to put more focus on us and what we could do.
“From the semi-finals the world saw that when West Indies turn up to play, you see how destructive they can be. We will just focus on that and try to execute our plans.”
Central to any West Indies victory will be talismanic opener Chris Gayle who has been the side’s leading batsman with 219 runs an three half-centuries. His destructive hitting late in the innings against Australia help West Indies put one foot in the final.
He will be surrounded by the likes of his daring partner Johnson Charles, the sublime Marlon Samuels, along with the Trinidadian pair of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard.
West Indies have so far relied on the spin of leg-spinner Samuel Badree and off-spinners Sunil Narine and Marlon Samuels, but could entertain thoughts of including speedster Fidel Edwards to shake up the Sri Lankans.
Whatever the combination, Sammy says a victory on Sunday would be of huge significance to the Caribbean.
“It would be massive. It’s been over a decade (actually eight years) and the fans are craving for a bit of success and that’s the goal we left the Caribbean with. We’ve been saying it in the dressing room: it’s one team, one people, one nation,” Sammy emphasised.
“We all know when we do well, the people in the Caribbean are very, very happy. Work stopped yesterday (Friday) for a few hours back at home [during the semi-final].
“It would mean everything to us as players and as the coaching staff as well. It would give us a big boost and hopefully we could do that tomorrow.”
WEST INDIES – Darren Sammy (captain), Dwayne Bravo, Samuel Badree, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin (wicketkeeper), Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith.
SRI LANKA – Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal (wicketkeeper), Akila Dananjaya, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Ajantha Mendis, Jeevan Mendis, Dilshan Munaweera, Thisara Perera, Kumar Sangakkara (wicketkeeper), Lahiru Thirimanne
UMPIRES: Aleem Dar, Simon Taufel; TV – Rod Tucker.