Sri Lanka v West Indies, World T20, semi-final April 3, 2014

Sri Lanka thrive before the storm


Before the hail, lightning, gust and rain, it was Sri Lanka who were bossing it at the Shere Bangla National Stadium. Their fielding, bowling and decision-making pushed West Indies on the back foot for 13.5 overs of the chase.

Dinesh Chandimal's decision not to play in the semi-final can be seen as a defensive move, especially coming from the team's appointed captain himself. But it was daring of the man not to play, and let the winning combination stick. And it worked, with his replacement Lahiru Thirimanne hitting a crucial 44.

It was only fitting for Angelo Mathews, the only Sri Lanka player to have played all 17 games of a long stay in Bangladesh, to play a major role in taking them a stage they would have targeted when they landed in Bangladesh. And he was quick to praise Chandimal for stepping aside for the team's benefit, a rare occurrence but one that made complete sense.

"It was a collective decision," Mathews said. "The selectors, management and Chandimal [decided]. We have to do what is best for the team all the time, regardless of who you are. I think he opted out because he wanted the best XI on the park. So I think it was a great and brave decision."

For the second game running, Sri Lanka has showed the importance of bowling tight and backing it up with strong fielding. They have been doing it in Bangladesh since January 27, when they started their long sojourn in the country. They have been beaten the home side 1-0, 2-0 and 3-0 in the Tests, T20s and ODIs respectively as well as winning the Asia Cup. But despite playing 17 matches so far, Sri Lanka's fielding standards have hardly dropped and they have looked even better at the fag end of a very long tour.

Mathews praised the effort of his team-mates as well as the coaching staff for the unflagging levels. "It is all the hard work that the boys do. I think they have been managed pretty well. When you play the intensity every other day, it takes a lot out of you. You need to manage yourself and still work really hard.

"Fitness, fielding and skills, we were consistent in the last couple of months in these areas. It will be ideal to win the title and go back home."

After Sri Lanka posted 160 for 6, Dwayne Smith began with a bang, caning Nuwan Kulasekara for 17 runs in the first over. On cue, Sri Lanka started to bowl better lengths, drying up the runs. By the time Chris Gayle was put out of his misery in the fifth over by Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka had put a foot on the door that had started to slam on them. Smith was gone in the same over, and from then on, the fielding came to the fore.

West Indies are generally not the most athletic side between the wickets, preferring to dealing more in big shots. So it was important that the boundaries were cut off, and it started with Tillakaratne Dilshan in the eighth over when he slid to save a boundary, and repeated it in the 10th over. Apart from these two, there were several other mini-stops and slides that cut off whatever the West Indies were trying to add.

Mathews said it was important to pick up wickets when they got wind, quite literally, of rain nearing Mirpur. It prompted Malinga to bowl more in the first six overs, instead of keeping most of his quota for the death.

"After the first half, we heard there might be bit of rain. We just had to keep them tight because they have some big hitters who can't be stopped if they got going.

"We had to take wickets to push them back. Lasith came to bowl in the first six overs which he doesn't do normally, but we needed our best bowler to come and take wickets"

Sri Lanka could have been expected to be tired against New Zealand in their last group game and in the semi-final, but they sprung up at the right time and look on the way to a perfect ending to their stay in Bangladesh.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 7, 2014, 14:47 GMT

    Lions are the Champions!!!!

  • Dummy4 on April 5, 2014, 3:05 GMT

    If's and but's are immaterial. The hard fact is SL played marginally better cricket on the day and D/L or not they deserved to win.

  • Sriyangi on April 4, 2014, 18:01 GMT

    Three Cheers!!! for Dinesh Chandimal for opting out. This type of unselfish acts are very rare these days. Work hard and get back your form Son; Sri Lanka cricket need players of your caliber. Selectors please take note: you have a rare gem of a cricketer in Dinesh Chandimal; make sure he is in the first XI in all three formats of the game. CONGRATULATIONS to the Sri Lankan team for the outstanding performance and making it to the Finals.

  • Godfrey on April 4, 2014, 17:13 GMT

    Comically bad were the wds of one commentator. Bowlers lost game for WI, were the wds of another. Crazy. WI lost the game because of the weather, period. 80 runs in 6.1 ovs. Samuels and Sammy at the wk and Russell et al to come. That was as even an odd as any with WI chasing. WI had done agst Ban Aus and Pak, spin and pace, so why not SrL. What was so special about SrL.

  • Kepili on April 4, 2014, 12:55 GMT

    The Weather God diminished the delight of getting the fitting result sans D/L tag SL deserved for their hard work. It is worth reminding how the same Weather God had a decisive hand in the RESULT of last t20 WC Final-2012. SL target was just 132 in 20 overs. In the 12th over they were 60 for 3 with MJ batting well, scoring 33 in 35 balls. They just needed 78 in 48 balls with 7 wickets in hand. Well within the target! Then came the DRIZZLE from nowhere in the 13th over, pressuring MJ to push the score up to meet the D/L par score at that stage. Then the sudden collapse started losing MJ, while trying a reverse pull against spin! This was followed by TWO sudden RUN OUTS, one in the same 13th over & the next in 14th over, while trying to push the score up, SKY-ROCKETTING the D/L par score! At the end of 14thOver, the Drizzle faded away, making SL 68/6 requiring 70 from 36 balls. SL never recovered from that collapse & another deserved chance for a WC title was GONE AWAY WITH THE DRIZZLE

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2014, 12:19 GMT

    2007 world cup aus vs sri lanka ( Aus Wins it ) , 2011 world cup india vs srlanka ( india take it all , then comes T20 pak vs Sl ( Pak T20 Champions , 2012 T20 Worldcup WI Vs SL ( This Time WI ) , four consecutive loss and yet the fifth time no way , this time SL must win for people cheering for them , for pakistani supporters for bangladeshi supporters for home boys ....SL 2014 T20 Champion .....pakistani fan

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2014, 11:51 GMT

    Lot of credit to chandimal for opting out to allow thirmanne in.Well done,its a selfless approach on his part.

  • Raj on April 4, 2014, 11:23 GMT

    Year of the Bridesmaids! SA vs SL in Finals. This is coming from an Indian fan. A SL Vs India final will be the most boring one. SA vs SL will be worth watching.

  • ESPN on April 4, 2014, 11:15 GMT

    Irishhawks. You have no idea what's coming your way. Every captain knows and has acknowledged the fact that the team that plays the better cricket on the day will walk out as winners. So don't jump the gun yet.

  • Izmi on April 4, 2014, 10:56 GMT

    Sri Lanka is lucky to have won the toss and batted first not aware that play would come to an abrupt end. Had the West Indies won the toss and batted first they may have won the game. Everyone was taken by surprise when suddenly the heavens opened and the severe storm and hail brought an early finish to the match when the Windies were about to unwind with some lusty blows as in their preious encounters. Gayle and Samuels should take the blame for the loss due to their slow approach after a tremendous start to the innings by Smith. In comparison to Group A where India and South Africa two super powers of test cricket battle it out for a place in the finals this was a good opportunity for minnows of test cricket both West Indies and Sri Lanka to gain some recognition in a totally different format with a consolation prize.

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