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Sri Lanka v West Indies: T20 match preview

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After the carnage and excitement of the Super 10 stage, the T20 World Cup enters the semi-final stages as Sri Lanka, the West Indies, South Africa and India battle it out for a place in the final showpiece and T20 World Cup glory.

First up sees the winners of group 1, Sri Lank,  take on the runners-up of group 2, the West Indies, in what is a repeat of the 2012 final that saw the West Indies crowned world champions.

Both teams arrive off the back of three wins and a loss from the earlier round and the statistics suggest that there is not much to chose between the two sides other than the fact that the defending champions have played all of their matches thus far at Mirpur, the venue of tonight's clash.

Coming into the tournament, the Sri Lankans would have been boosted by their Asia Cup success in the 50-over format which was ideal preparation for the Lions considering the game time they would have experienced on the sort of pitches seen in Bangladesh.

As a unit they have the perfect all-round balance of experience, finesse, power and variety which is why they were spoken about as potential champions before the tournament began.

Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kusal Perera offer a potentially explosive right and left-handed combination at the top of the order and have the ability to tear the West Indies attack apart during the early power-play.

If the pair can achieve this they have the experience and finesse of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara that can boss the middle overs for the final onslaught which will come in the shape of Angelo Mathews and Lahiru Thirimanne.

With the ball, Sri Lanka have plenty of variety and options. The irresistible Lasith Malinga will again be the main threat at the death of the innings despite the fact that he has yet to make an impact in the tournament thus far.

Nuwan Kulasekara has been superb all tournament and will target the left-handed Chris Gayle with his gentle away swing, forcing the West Indian to play through his least favourite off-side.

The spin factor has and will continue to play the dominant role as the tournament progresses. Sri Lanka have plenty of form options in the shape of Herath, Mendis and Senanayake and you can be guaranteed that taking the pace off the ball will be key if the Lions want to restrict the powerful West Indian batting.

The West Indies will be up for this one and will probably have the crowd behind them. Unlike their opponents there is no finesse about them whatsoever, just brute force and a host of power hitters that are capable of clearing the rope with ease.

Dwayne Smith and Gayle are the most destructive opening pair in this format and will look to capitalise on the first power-play. I would expect the Sri Lankan spinners to play a role first up as they look to restrict the runs by taking the pace off the ball.

If the opening pair fail, the brutality keeps coming in the form of Simmons, Samuels, Bravo, Sammy and Russell. The West Indian captain Darren Sammy has become a phenomenon in the closing stages, establishing himself as the best finisher in the T20 format. This is where Malinga could make the difference with his ability to put the ball full and straight on a consistent basis.

One of the most impressive and important contributions thus far to the West Indian cause has been the performance of their spinners upfront. Badree has taken on board the responsibility of the power-play with Sunil Narine taking care of the middle overs alongside Marlon Samuels. 

As a result, the trio have shared 19 of the 31 wickets taken by the West Indies with Samuel Badree leading the way with 10 and Narine restricting the middle order with an economy rate of 4.50.

Both sides have taken 31 wickets in the tournament at very similar run-rates. Both sides have chased down more than 170 and both sides have dismissed opposition for less than 100 on two occasions.

Where the West Indies have scored a greater percentage of their runs in fours and sixes than their opponents, Sri Lanka have accumulated more singles and twos hence facing fewer dot balls. While the Windies have been particularly brutal in the final five overs, Sri Lanka have kept a tempo going through the middle overs.

All things considered there is little to choose between the two teams. However as so often seen in the shorter version, there are no second chances and all it takes is an individual performance of sheer brilliance to shift the balance of power.

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Topics:
Cricket
T20 World Cup
Sri Lanka cricket
West Indies cricket

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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