Islands of hope

Both Sri Lanka and West Indies aim to end a barren spell with a win in the final

Written by G.S. Vivek | Colombo | Published: October 7, 2012 12:45 am

When Mahela Jayawardene and Darren Sammy turned up for the pre-final photo-op with the white metal trophy,it is difficult to think of two captains who would rather not let go of the silverware.

Jayawardane,as has been well-documented by now,has been a losing finalist in a World Cup thrice in the last five years — the 2007 and 2011 World Cups sandwiching the 2009 World T20. For Sammy,it is the other way around. The West Indies have won nothing of note in the last decade. Coming in to the current tournament,they may have been billed as one of the favourites,but the nature of the T20 game and the brand of cricket that the Caribbean team play mean even if the side were knocked out early,it would not have come as a surprise.

It is not just the recent history that separates Jayawardane and Sammy or their sides. Both as captain and batsman,Jaywardane’s role in the side cannot be under estimated. Jayawardene is one of the few who have managed to stay true to their elegant batting technique while still dismantling bowling attacks. The 210 runs he has scored is the most by a Sri Lankan and fourth highest in this tournament. That may be so,but it is always Lanka’s barren streak that needs addressing at press conferences.

“We don’t want to go back into history and say it hasn’t worked for us. We were not good enough to win those finals,but we believe we have the capacity to win this one,” says Mahela. “In one’s career you are lucky enough to play in one final but four,that’s amazing.

Different roles

But on the field,Jayawardene’s role is more as a premier batsman. However,Sammy’s primary job,in a dressing room of T20 superheroes,will be to manage his men. With 28 runs and two wickets (at an economy rate of 8.33) in the tournament,Sammy’s role on the field is clearly not that of a game-changer. He wasn’t even the most convincing choice for captaincy and has always had to defend his role in the side. He has also been accused of being too passive. However,for someone who’s brief is to create an atmosphere of comfort so that the individual brilliance of his team mates can find expression,accusations of passivity come with the terrain.

Behind the scenes,Sammy has given the side a constancy it has lacked of late. The captain in all formats,he has built a side that may not have won too many trophies,but have come close more and more frequently. And now they stand on the brink of a major trophy.

“For me,it’s going to be a memorable occasion as captain but I am more focussed on the team and the Caribbean people. I have been playing for just a few years but the fans have been supporting the team for a number of years. Work stopped on Friday for a few hours back at home. I got an e-mail this morning from Mr (Clive) Lloyd saying we are very,very proud of what the team is doing. I remember he said that the only time success comes before work is in the dictionary,” says Sammy.

Road to final

Sri Lanka (5Ws,1L)

Beat Zimbabwe by 82 runs

Lost to South Africa by 32 runs

Tied with NZ (Won in Super Over)

Beat West Indies by 9 wickets

Beat England by 19 runs

Beat Pakistan by 16 runs in the semifinal

WIndies (3ws,2ls)

Lost to Australia by 17 runs (D/L method)

Abandoned with Ireland

Beat England by 15 runs

Lost to Sri Lanka by 9 wickets

Tied with NZ (Won in Super Over)

Beat Aus by 74 runs in the semifinal

— S.Pervez Qaiser

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