Sri Lanka captain and ace fast bowler Lasith Malinga takes his second wicket, the crucial one of opener Dwayne Smith, to set the West Indies on the path to defeat in the first semifinal of the ICC World Twenty20 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium yesterday. PHOTO: AFP
Take a glance across the scorecards of Sri Lanka's games this year -- except for the last one against New Zealand -- and it will be a difficult task to identify that one notable individual performance that took the team over the line in each of them.
The fact that none of their players feature in the top ten wicket-takers or run-scorers column in this tournament is the exact reason behind their progress to the finals: their team effort.
And it was exactly this feature that led the Lankans to their second consecutive T20 final after they achieved a 27-run win, via Duckworth-Lewis, over the West Indies in Mirpur yesterday in a game that was cut short due to the traditional Kalboishaki hail-storm in the second innings. Sri Lanka will play the final on April 6 against the winner of today's second semifinal between India and South Africa.
Batting first, Sri Lanka rode on two forty plus scores from Lahiru Thirimanne and Angelo Mathews to post a par-score of 160. In reply, a struggling West Indies innings were interrupted at 13.5 overs with the team score on 80 for four.
The Sri Lankan bowlers took the pace off from their deliveries and used all their experience in these conditions to peg back the men from the Caribbean.
Captain Lasith Malinga struck first when Chris Gayle played a slower delivery onto the stumps in the fifth over. Four balls later he deceived Dwayne Smith with another slower; this time bowling him through the gate.
West Indies fell into deeper waters when Seekuge Prasanna trapped Lendl Simmons in front with a straighter one in his first delivery. After 10 overs the West Indies were struggling at 53 for 3.
A 42-run stand for the fourth wicket between Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo looked to be building a recovery, but Bravo was caught at square-leg off Nuwan Kulasakera.
Darren Sammy, who was his side's saviour in the last two games, came to the crease next, but did not face any deliveries as the hail storm had hit Mirpur by then.
Earlier, crucial run-outs dented Sri Lanka's batting and it was only a late burst from Mathews, who scored 40 off 23 balls, that helped the Lions post a defendable total.
While the explosive start from Kusal Perera and Tillakartne Dilshan, that realised 41 off the first four, built a good platform.
Perera took a liking to Krishmar Santokie's medium pacers very early in the innings and played his favourite shot -- the pick-up -- twice to dismiss Santokie for two boundaries in the third.
Perera's overtly aggressive technique however, got the better of him as he got bowled by Santokie in the fourth over.
The wicket caused a ruckus for Sri Lanka, as they lost two wickets in quick time after that. Mahela Jayawardene was run out without facing a ball in the fifth over, while the out-of-touch Kumar Sangakkara was caught and bowled.
Lahiru Thirimanne, who replaced captain Dinesh Chandimal in the side, came in next and scored a 35-ball 44 to help Sri Lanka recover.
With three overs remaining Mathews hammered two sixes and three fours to take Sri Lanka to 160.