The first semi-final of the 2014 ICC World T20 proved to be an anti-climax of sorts as West Indies failed to put forward their best game. Both with the bat and ball, Sri Lanka outclassed the Windies, and in the end deservedly progressed after rain and hailstorm brought the match to a premature halt. West Indies had their moments while bowling, but failed to capitalise on a good position and allowed Sri Lanka to recover. Once the Lankans had the momentum, they never allowed West Indies to dominate.
Batting first Sri Lanka had a competitive score on the board. However, considering the easygoing nature of the pitch, West Indies should have backed themselves to chase the score. For some reason though they got themselves into a terrible tangle. Chris Gayle, who has won many matches for his side with his sensational batting, put up a rather bizarre batting show, managing only 1 in 13 balls. It can be argued that the slow approach has worked for the left-hander in the past since he has been able to catch up. But, on this occasion, he just did not show any intent to score, and his dismissal to an innocuous delivery put West Indies under immense pressure.
What Gayle’s poor knock did was put addition burden on Dwayne Smith, who had got off to a fluent start. With Gayle not rotating the strike, he was forced to play all the big strokes alone, and succumbed in his endeavour. Another hero of West Indies’ 2012 World T20 triumph also had a big role to play in Windies’ loss this time round. Marlon Samuels just couldn’t get going and when the heavens opened had crawled to 19 at a strike rate of 62. West Indies needed a much better effort from two of their most experienced professionals under the circumstances.
West Indies might consider themselves unlucky since they couldn’t get to bat the entire 20 overs, and also the fact that danger man and skipper Darren Sammy did not get to face a single ball. But, even if that had happened, West Indies would have needed an extraordinary effort to pull them through. It was highly unlikely that they would have achieved the same considering the quality of the opposition bowling as also the fact that Dwayne Bravo had been dismissed before the rain break.
In contrast, Sri Lanka did not have it all easy, but hung on and eventually were the better of the two sides, and deserved to progress. Angelo Mathews was the man who turned the match in Sri Lanka’s favour. It was his assault on the West Indian bowlers in the last couple of overs that gave them a competitive score as well as the momentum going into the second half of the match. The all-rounder, not for the first time, demonstrated what a dangerous T20 player he is. Sadly for West Indies, they were on the receiving end of a tremendous display of late-overs batsmanship.
--By A Cricket Analyst