BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – West Indies begin their quest today to reach the final of the World Twenty20 Championship when they play their first match of the crucial Super Eight second round against Sri Lanka.
The hosts came through the preliminary round safely, topping Group D with two wins from as many games and now believe themselves to be well poised to make a successful run in the tournament against powerful opponents which include India and Australia.
West Indies coach Ottis Gibson said the build-up to the second round had been a positive one for his side and it had engendered a feeling of confidence in the camp.
“The team moved forward nicely. We’re very happy to have gotten out of the first stage of the competition and into the Super- Eights,” Gibson said.
“Now we are looking forward to what’s going to be another very competitive stage for us and ultimately we are trying to get to be playing cricket in Barbados on the 16th of May (the WT20 final).
“The feeling is great. From the Jamaica festival ahead of the warm ups and the start of the tournament the feeling has been good.
“We went to Guyana and had a good win against Ireland then against England the Duckworth/Lewis method played its part and we were happy with that situation.”
West Indies opened with a crushing 70-run win over minnows Ireland last Friday and followed that up on Monday with another win over England in a rain-affected match.
There were obvious weaknesses despite the Windies first round successes. Against Ireland, they could only manage 138 for nine and against England they bled runs to concede 191 before being helped out by the Duckworth/Lewis Method.
Gibson said he was impressed, however, with how his side was handling pressure situations.
“We had guys who put in some good performances. In the first game against Ireland the bowling was outstanding, the batting wobbled a bit,” the former West Indies fast bowler said.
“We’re becoming a more resilient team with people performing under pressure. Maybe in the past from the position we were in we may not have got up to 140 but on the day we got up to 140 which we knew would have been a competitive total.”
The match will present a rematch of one of last year’s semi-finals when West Indies crashed out of the tournament at the hands of the Sri Lankans at the Oval in England.
They will have their hands full against an Asian side that possess plenty talent in the form of batsmen Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakeratne Dilshan and match-winning bowlers of the likes of fast bowler Lasith Malinga and spinner Ajantha Mendis.
Gibson told reporters he would choose his final XI to combat Sri Lanka based on how he believed the Kensington Oval pitch would play, and hinted at a pace trio if the strip looked conducive to fast bowling.
“If the pitch is going to be quick and bouncy we may use (Jerome) Taylor, Kemar Roach and Ravi Rampaul. It would be ridiculous to go with three spinners,” he contended.
Sri Lanka, last year’s losing finalists, should start as favourites in the contest despite winning one of two of their preliminary round matches in Group B.
They will be hoping to capitalize on a capricious West Indies batting line up which will be led by attacking opener and captain Chris Gayle along with veteran batsmen Shiv Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan.
WEST INDIES – Chris Gayle (captain), Sulieman Benn, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Andre Fletcher, Wavell Hinds, Nikita Miller, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Jerome Taylor
SRI LANKA – Kumar Sangakkara (captain), Muttiah Muralitharan (vice-capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Thissara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekera, Suraj Randiv, Ajantha Mendis, Lasith Malinga, Chanaka Welagedara, Chamara Kapugedara, Sanath Jayasuriya and Chinthaka Jayasinghe.