Saturday, June 20, 2009

Jeete hain DilShan se...Lankans cruise to the T20 finals

The 2nd Semifinals between West Indies & Sri Lanka turned out to be quite a damp squib. The Sri Lankans won the match without much trouble or bother. From the very beginning of the match, the Windies have been off colour. At the toss, Gayle chose to field, a decision, which felt strange, especially on a wicket, where it would become considerably slower as the match progressed, & the Lankans have a brillinat spin attack.

The Lankans however started the proceedings with Sanath Jayasuriya & Dilshan, the former looking scratchy for the beginning. They still managed to put on 73 runs for the first wicket, before Jayasuriya holed out in the deep for a rather subdued 24 of 37 deliveries. Sangakkara & Jayawardane got out cheaply & this was the only phase of the game, when the Windies looked in control. While others struggled to put bat to the ball or score freely at one end, Dilshan was at his unstoppable best. HIs batting was simply superb as he scored one of the best innings of T20 till date & remained unbeaten till the end. At the end of 20 overs, he had contributed 96 runs of just 57 deliveries, missing out on a well deserved hundred,as he did not get enough strike in the last over. The Lankans were struggling till the 15th over reaching just 98 runs for 3 wickets. But thanks to Dilshan & later a brief cameo by Mathews, they had plundered 60 runs of the last 30 deliveries to take the final score to 158 for 5. A score that had seemed unprobable till the 16th over. Dilshan had treated the capacity crowd to some exhillarating batting. Certainly a total that was good to defend on a wicket that was fast crumbling.

When the Windies came into bat, it was expected that the top order would fire from the word go. But they were shocked & blown into disarray in the very 1st over. Mathews, with the new ball wreaked havoc & bowled out Marshall in the 2nd delivery, Simmons on the 4th delivery & then Bravo in the 6th delivery. 3 prized wickets gone in the 1st over for just one run. Gayle at the other end could only gape in disbelief, as the Lankans tied the noose firmly in the game. The match was virtually dusted & buried there iself. Chanderpaul in next tried to bring some semblence back & along with Gayle took the score to 43, but then got out in the 9th over. The asking rate kept on increasing, as Gayle tried his best to score at the other end. Batsmen kept loosing wickets & it was all over in the 18th over, with the team total at 101. Gayle was left stranded at the other end for a fighting & a rather subdued, 63 of 50 deliveries. the next best contribution was 11 runs from extras. No other batsman could manage to reach double figures. Ramdin was the only batsman other than Gayle to hit a boundary. Apart from Mathew, who finally ended with figures of 3 for 16, Murali got 3 for 29 & mystery spinner Mendis got 2 for 9 in his quota of 4 overs. It was abject surrender for the Windies, who were just not upto the mark against a brilliant Lankan team.

Dilshan was the obvious choice for the man of the match. His tally in the tournament is already 317 runs from 6 innings at an average of 63.47. The Lankans would be certainly looking at him for one last big contribution on Sunday, when the meet Pakistan in the finals.

The T20 World Cup is surely headed for the subcontinent, clearly defining the supremacy in the World of Cricket. In terms of sheer brilliance, its the all round performance of Afridi, useful batting by Younis & Misbah, lethal bowling of Umar Gul & Razzak for Pakistan at one end vs explosive batting of Dilshan, Sanga & Jayasuriya & scorching bowling from slinging Malinga, wily Mendis & Murali for the Lankans.

Surely a match that promises excitement. May the best team win.