Captain Darren Sammy says defending champions West Indies have been motivated by the lure of history as they prepare to battle with Sri Lanka in the first semi-final of the ICC World T20 today. Sammy has revealed that his men left the Caribbean passionately charged to successfully defend their title, a feat no team has yet accomplished.
“When we left the Caribbean, we had that as the motivating factor for us,” said Sammy yesterday. “In the last World Cup, the mantra was one team, one goal and the mission was to win the World Cup. This year the mantra is the same: One team, one goal, but the mission is to retain the title. It’s something that no team has done before and we are very confident that we can do it”.
Sri Lanka and West Indies have had similar paths towards the semi-final winning three matches and losing one each in the Super Ten group stages. Their overall batting and bowling figures are similar with West Indies having the marginally better batting numbers, with a slightly higher scoring rate and average, while Sri Lanka have a marginally better bowling average.
“We are focused and committed to the goal we left the Caribbean with which is to defend that title,” said Sammy. “We broke it down in phases and it started way back against Ireland in the Caribbean and then the steps that we have taken to reach to the semi-finals, we only have two more steps to take so we are going to focus on that main steps which is the semi-final”.
The two teams boast a couple of excellent bowling performances-- Sri Lanka bowling out Netherlands for 39 and New Zealand for 60, while West Indies bowled out Bangladesh for 98 and Pakistan for 82. However the scoring patterns of the teams have been different with West Indies relying heavily on boundaries, striking twice as many sixes as Sri Lanka.
“Cricket is not about what happens before,” Sammy said. “It’s (about) what happens on a cricket field on that present day. We defeated them in the World Cup (2012 final) and in the practice game here, but they have played some good cricket and we have a lot of respect for them”.
West Indies have relied heavily on their spinners, who have bowled more overs than the seamers, and have accounted for 19 of their 31 wickets. Spin is again expected to play a prominent role in today’s semi-final with West Indies likely to persist with Samuel Badree at the start of the innings and Sunil Narine through the middle overs.
Sri Lanka’s spin options are Sachitra Senanayake, Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath who made his tournament debut against New Zealand with impressive figures of five for three. “Yes we are aware of the threat they bring but they are also should be aware of the threat we bring,” warned Sammy. “I guess the final will be at the back of their mind, the practice game will be at the back of their mind because they know once West Indies turn up, West Indies is dangerous”.
The first semi-final match between West Indies and Sri Lanka starts at 9 a.m. (TT time)