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Sammy aims to ruin Sri Lanka’s T20 party

COLOMBO  – West Indies captain Darren Sammy promised a well-contested World Twenty20 final against hosts Sri Lanka on Sunday, saying his team had peaked at the right time.

“We are determined to spoil the Sri Lankan party,” Sammy told a media conference on Saturday. “The two best teams are in the final and if Sri Lanka are strong, we too have peaked in time.”

Besides their 11 rivals on the field, the Caribbean stars will also face a sell-out crowd of 35,000 at the Premadasa stadium rooting for Sri Lanka’s first major title since they won the 50-over World Cup in 1996. The final is being billed as a battle between the big hitters of the West Indies led by Chris Gayle and the formidable bowling attack of the home team, but Sammy said there was more to his team than just Gayle.

“We have Gayle to give us a good start,” the West Indies captain said. “If he gets going it is great, but we have enough resources in the bank if he does not give the start we need.” Gayle crushed Australia in Friday’s semi-final with an unbeaten 75 off 41 balls even on the slow pitch that was considered unfavorable for big shots. Sammy was confident of the West Indies, champions in the first two 50-over World Cups in 1975 and 1979, winning a major title for the first time since the Champions Trophy triumph in 2004. “When we take the field on Sunday, everyone will be looking to perform their best because this is going to be a memorable occasion and a victory will mean a lot for fans back home,” he said.

Sammy said the spin-friendly conditions at the Premadasa stadium that are expected to favour the hosts, did not worry him. “If we play our best, conditions will not count,” he said. “Our job is to put up a big total whether we bat first or not. “Sri Lanka obviously know the conditions well, but I am hoping we get a good pitch to play on in the final. The emphasis however will remain on doing best in the given conditions.” Sammy revealed the team was overjoyed at receiving a good luck message from former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd, their leader in the two World Cup triumphs.

“Lloyd said in the message that everyone is genuinely proud of the way we have played, which has been a big motivation for the entire team,” he said. “People in the Caribbean have been craving for a title. We know we are one step away from that. We want to make our fans happy.”

Australia’s bamboozled captain George Bailey offered Sri Lanka good, if obvious, advice on how to beat the West Indies — get Gayle early. “If Sri Lanka can get Gayle out for under 20, they will win. But if they don’t, the West Indies will prove too strong,” said Bailey. “With the West Indies attack, you can chase down 160. I am sitting on the fence a bit. But the two best teams got into the final.” Hosts Sri Lanka, meanwhile, were quietly confident they can stop the rampaging West Indies batsmen to win their first major title since the 1996 triumph in the 50-over World Cup.

Sri Lanka made the final of two successive World Cups in 2007 and 2011, and also the World Twenty20 in 2009, but were unable to cross the last hurdle when it mattered most.

Jayawardene, who led the side in the 2007 and 2011 tournaments, said his team’s strategy on Sunday will be different from previous finals. “They have all had to be approached in different ways,” he said. “One final was in Barbados (2007), one in England (2009) and one was in Mumbai (2011). “But now we are playing in the Premadasa, so we will approach it differently. We have to adapt. It is all about handling tough situations better.” The classy Sri Lankans have lost just one of their six games in the tournament so far: a seven-overs-a-side rain-affected game against South Africa in Hambantota in the preliminary league.

Jayawardene has himself led from the front with 210 runs, the fourth highest run-maker in the tournament behind Australian Shane Watson (249), Gayle (219) and Brendon McCullum of New Zealand (212). Sri Lanka will be further boosted by the match-winning form of unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis, who shares the top spot among bowlers with Watson at 11 wickets apiece, and sling-arm fast bowler Lasith Malinga, who has eight scalps.

courtesy: The Nation

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