Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

ICC Twenty20 final preview: On cup’s cusp

Virat Kohli plays football while Mahendra Singh Dhoni ties his shoelaces during a training session on Saturday. Should they win on Sunday, India will hold all major ICC trophies at the same time. (AP) Virat Kohli plays football while Mahendra Singh Dhoni ties his shoelaces during a training session on Saturday. Should they win on Sunday, India will hold all major ICC trophies at the same time. (AP)
Written by Nihal Koshie | Mirpur | Posted: April 6, 2014 2:09 am | Updated: April 6, 2014 2:31 pm

The Sri Lankans have made Bangladesh their second home over the past few months.

Well before any of the teams had arrived for the World T20, Sri Lanka were acclimatising in Bangladesh, playing two Tests, two ODIs and two T20Is, beating Bangladesh in all three formats. Then, the went on to give a better account of their strength on sub-continental wickets in the Asia Cup. Pakistan, on a high after beating India, would have believed that 260 was defendable against Sri Lanka. Lahiru Thirimanne and Mahela Jayawardene not only took the game away from them but also helped register a five-wicket win with 22 balls to spare.

The game was played at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium. The Islanders will play their second final in less than a month at the same venue on Sunday. Given their recent success at this stadium and their bowlers’ familiarity of the conditions, the Sri Lankans should have a goodnight’s sleep. Unless the Indians want to be cheeky and slip scorecards of major finals under the doors.

The South Africans may have gained the reputation of habitual chokers yet it has been the men from the emerald island who have a disappointing record in the final of ICC events. They have competed in four finals, but have returned empty-handed on each occasion. The margins of defeat have been rather huge — 53 runs to Australia in the 2007 World Cup final, an wight-wicket loss to Pakistan in the final of the 2009 World T20, the 36 run loss to West Indies in the final of the last edition of the World T20.

However, the memory the Indians would want their opponents to carry with them on Sunday, is the loss at the Wankhede Stadium on April 2, 2011. In that game, Lasith Malinga had dismissed both Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar cheaply, yet Indians won the World Cup by six wickets and 10 balls to spare.

The worry for the Sri Lankans will be that this Indian side is playing with the kind of confidence they carried during the last 50-over Cup. In that tournament, the Indians had lost just one game to South Africa, before beating Australia (quarterfinal), Pakistan (semifinal) and Sri Lanka. At this World T20, not only have the Indians remained unbeaten but they also look unstoppable — Virat Kohli tops the run-getters list while the three frontline spinners have taken 24 wickets.

The trophy cabinets of the sides are an indication of which team holds the clear edge, in spite of Sri Lanka having an experienced bowling attack and the continued…

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