SL v WI, Super Eights, World Twenty20, Pallekele September 28, 2012

Spin-heavy teams meet with semi-final implications

Match facts

September 29, 2012
Start time 1930 (1400 GMT)

Big picture

Sri Lanka and West Indies have hardly had highlight moments when playing each other. Their most talked-about match is actually one that didn't happen, when West Indies refused to tour during the 1996 World Cup. There is Viv Richards' 181 not out, there is Brian Lara's 169 and his superlative Test tour of Sri Lanka in 2001, there are Muttiah Muralitharan's exploits and Shivnarine Chanderpaul's finish with four and six, but you really have to strain the memory to come up with those.

A glorious rivalry is not about to start on Saturday, but they play a crucial Super Eights game, one that could possibly assure one of them a semi-final place. It is a crucial game for the sides for different reasons. Sri Lanka don't have a positive net run-rate after their Super Over win, and West Indies will not be playing the last game of their group, so neither side will want to get into a net run-rate situation. The team that loses, though, could find themselves in exactly that situation.

Form guide (completed matches, most recent first)

Sri Lanka WLWLL
West Indies WLWWL

Watch out for

International cricket went about 36 years without finger-flickers after John Gleeson retired in the '70s, but on Saturday we will have two of that variety pitting their wits against each other: Ajantha Mendis and Sunil Narine. Both of them had an ordinary outings on the flat track in Pallekele. Mendis went for a career-worst 1 for 48, and Narine 0 for 33. They will both be itching to correct that record.

Lasith Malinga may not have taken a five-for or bowled wicket-maidens, but he made an impact at a time when most bowlers are looking for towels for their sweaty palms. His captain Mahela Jayawardene summed it up well after his Super Over: "Another day he might go for runs but you always back your ace bowler. It is good to have somebody who has control mentally over that situation. After that you try to execute your skills. It is important that you are tough in that situation and Mali is one of those guys."

Team news

Ajantha Mendis is yet to fully recover from his side strain. The other spinner they used in the previous game, Akila Dananjaya, is also in doubt after suffering a fracture on his left cheek bone. A decision on whether he will play is to be taken on Saturday. They might also need to look at whether they need an extra specialist batsman ahead of one of three allrounders, or even one of the specialist bowlers.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Mahela Jayawardene (capt.), 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Lahiru Thirimanne, 5 Jeevan Mendis, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Lasith Malinga, 10 and 11 Akila Dananjaya, Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath

The legspinner Samuel Badree slotted in nicely against England, and Andre Russell, who came into the XI in the match against Ireland, wasn't even called upon to bowl. Choosing between Russell and Fidel Edwards might be West Indies' only dilemma.

West Indies (probable) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Johnson Charles, 3 Marlon Samuels, 4 Dwayne Bravo, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Darren Sammy (capt), 7 Andre Russell/Fidel Edwards, 8 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Samuel Badree.

Pitch and conditions

Pallekele has provided the truest pitches in the tournament and consistent high scores. It has two more days to go through, and with a largish square available it should hold up. The rain and its imminent arrival remain a mystery after a seven-month dry period. The locals are expecting rain any minute, but the organisers will be hoping that any minute doesn't arrive until Monday.

Stats and trivia

  • The only instance of a bat being carried through in a Twenty20 international has happened in a Sri Lanka-West Indies match. Chris Gayle scored 63 not out in West Indies' 101 all out in Sri Lanka's semi-final victory in 2009 World Twenty20.
  • In 263 matches before this World Twenty20, 126 maidens were bowled which is a pedestrian rate compared to 18 maidens in 16 matches of this World Twenty20.


    "He bowled really well and came back even with a knock. Good that he got a game under the belt."
    Mahela Jayawardene on Akila Dananjaya

    Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo