SL v WI, World T20, semi-finals, Mirpur April 2, 2014

Captaincy contrasts couldn't be starker


One camp had not announced their captain until seven hours before the start of a crunch game while the other side is buzzing under theirs. In terms of leadership ahead of their semi-final of the World T20, there could not be a bigger contrast between Sri Lanka and West Indies.

Until SLC announced Lasith Malinga would lead*, there was ambiguity over whether appointed captain Dinesh Chandimal would lead, or whether Malinga or, Angelo Mathews - the Test and ODI captain - would helm the side. Chandimal was suspended for their last league game against New Zealand, which Sri Lanka won quite convincingly despite making a low score. Malinga, the designated deputy, led the team in that match but it was quite evident that Mahela Jayawardene called the shots.

With Chandimal available for the semi-final, Sri Lanka had been in a quandary. Chandimal's batting form has gone through a low period since he averaged 44.80 in the 2012-13 season, scoring two hundreds and as many fifties in all formats. This year he has made 367 runs at an average of 28.23, among which he has scores of 18, 3 and 15 in the three T20 innings, including the only one of the World T20. These numbers may be why he has decided to "opt out".

Darren Sammy has been the exact opposite of Chandimal in terms of form and impact on his team. Although wicketless, he has provided a final flourish with the bat in all three of West Indies' win so far.

Against Australia, he was the hero by first replying to James Faulkner's "I don't particularly like the West Indies" comment ahead of the game. Then, as if it was meant to happen, Sammy hammered the same bowler for two consecutive sixes in the final over to complete a steep chase.

In the virtual quarter-final against Pakistan, Sammy enforced himself in the last five overs of the West Indies innings. He has hammered five sixes in the two important games, playing a big part in both wins.

As it had been since taking over three years ago, Sammy's strength has been his attitude and his ability to play with a free mind even under the most pressure. His place in the team is regularly questioned, and this time, he has answered his critics in a grand manner. Sammy has taken everything, even the sacking from the ODI captaincy, in his stride. He feels that it is far more important to play for West Indies.

"Probably after we win the tournament, I won't be the Test captain," Sammy said with a big smile, when reminded that he lost his ODI captaincy soon after the 2012 World T20 triumph. "For me, it is never been about whether I am captain or not. I just enjoy playing for West Indies. Not many people get to wake up in the morning and get to do what they love.

"I have many friends who wake up on a Monday morning and don't want to go to work. Captain or not, it is about giving my best to the team. I have definitely gained more experience. It is all about West Indies for me."

Given his struggles in the format, Chandimal's elevation as T20 captain looks premature. Sammy, on the other hand, has been basking in the Mirpur floodlights, and has become, after Nepal's Paras Khadka, the most loved captain of the World T20 in Bangladesh. Can he keep up the good feeling, or will Sri Lanka's hotchpotch actually work?

* 0747 GMT, April 3, 2014. The piece has been updated with news that Lasith Malinga will lead Sri Lanka the semi-final.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Don Jerome Hiran on April 3, 2014, 11:32 GMT

    I'd like to see Kusal opening with Thisara to see what options the fielding side has because one belters the pace while the other just hoist spinners for sixes.

    Whatever it is 'BEST OF LUCK FOR SRI LANKA'

  • Shan on April 3, 2014, 10:45 GMT

    It's a good thing that Malinga is leading. And it's nice to see few people backing up Chandimal. Yes he should be dropped considering his form as he was given plenty of opportunities already. But he is a great player and doesn't deserve this trash talk. All he need is to go back to club level and get few good scores. I am sure he'll make a come back before WC. Warming up the bench with the team will not do any good for him, as he will be over thinking about not being able to perform for his country.

  • VA on April 3, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    rajuramki, why is it surprising that West Indies spinners have stalled their opponents? I think we all expected this, considering the T20 rankings show that the 2 best bowlers in the world are Badree and Narine (West Indian spinners). Also the only man ever to win a "super over" by bowling AND batting is Samuels.

  • Kay on April 3, 2014, 6:04 GMT

    Captaincy is not the issue but the fact that Chandimal in t20 squad is struggling for runs. Look at his T20 averages over the past few years and you will see how poor it is compared to some of the other players. Though to be fair he looks better this year than the last.

  • Venkat on April 3, 2014, 5:46 GMT

    The momentum is now with West Indies through the terrific form of several players like Badree,Naraine,Bravo and Sammy . Further this team has developed the confidence that they can beat any team . All this points to a West Indian win and a berth in the final . It is indeed very surprising that West Indian spinners ,rather than their sppedsters, who have stalled their opponents thus far .

  • Kasun on April 3, 2014, 4:26 GMT

    I'm not sure why SL people still like Mahela to lead instead a young Chandimal. I'm sure the same guys will come all guns blazing when Mahela failed. To me Mahela did a good job last world cup and no he is done. So let a new captain make the decisions. In the hindsight he will learn from mistakes going forward. There is no future if Mahela made a mistake in the Semis or Finals. There will be no learning for the younger guys. I know Chandimal is a bad choice as the T20 captain, if the selectors given him the job, let him do the job. BTW I'm a die hard SL fan. All I can plead is some SL fans has to realise the ground situation, instead thrash talking at WI. WI is far better than SL at the moment. If selectors make the right choice we will win. I reckon they should bring Prasanna for Thisara and Chandimal for Dilshan/Sangakkara. Please post.

  • Suranga on April 3, 2014, 3:53 GMT

    I just hope Chandimal will stay on the bench (highly unlikely). Chandimal not a T20 player. He can be good T20 player later on ..but now..he is not.

    other than chandimal there are few others yet to make their mark on the field. but its a huge gamble to test new comers in a pressure match. Herath had experience to adapt to the situation. but i don't think others hv.

    As a SL fan, Just hope SL read the pitch and condition and pick their best 11. I am saying again, Chandimal shouldn't be in SL best 11. there r 4 captains in SL team and thats something other teams lack of.. So, i cannot understand how Chandi fit in to best 11.

  • Android on April 3, 2014, 3:24 GMT

    keep up the same team which play against Nz

  • siddhartha on April 3, 2014, 2:41 GMT

    SL should play an extra bowler in place of Chandimal as even a tail ender can bat better than him. Also the bowling will be bonus

  • ESPN on April 3, 2014, 0:12 GMT

    I don't think the captaincy issue is a big one for the Lankan's. They are used to input from their seniors. They need to get their spinners sorted and choose their in form batsmen or they will get decimated by the Windies. Malinga has not got a great record v the Windies.

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