Colombo, Oct 6: Here are two teams desperate for a global trophy. The wait for one of them will end on Sunday with the ICC World Twenty20 2012. The other has to swallow the disappointment and carry on their quest for ICC silverware.
Sri Lanka and West Indies have long waited on the international cricket scene to stamp their authority with a World Cup. But Sri Lanka kept faltering at the final hurdle while West Indies have just made up the numbers in those events.
Now the times have changed. With Chris Gayle at the fore, West Indies are set to regain lost ground. Their last major success came in 2004 with the Champions Trophy in England. For Sri Lanka it takes them back to 1996 when Arjuna Ranatunga lifted the World Cup in Lahore, beating Australia.
But since 1996, Sri Lanka have been the most consistent team in world tournaments. They reached the 2007 and 2011 World Cup finals only to return home as the second best team. In between those two, they again could not clear the final obstacle in ICC World T20 in England in 2009, losing to Pakistan.
On Sunday, in front of adoring home fans at R Premadasa Stadium, Mahela Jayawardene and his men will have a great chance to end 16 years (in between India and Sri Lanka were joint winners of Champions Trophy in 2002) of drought. But one man is capable of spoiling that dream. That man is none other than Gayle.
In his own style, the left-handed explosive opener has said the Cup is theirs. "World Cup is definitely ours, sorry Sri Lanka, but I think it is our World Cup. The support will be more for West Indies on Sunday. We love Sri Lanka, but sorry, it is going to be West Indies all the way. The final will be a good final but we will be on top, definitely," Gayle said after leading West Indies to a crushing 74-run over Australia in the semi-final on Friday night.
These two teams had met in the Super Eights and that was won by Sri Lanka. Past results, history and crowd will have no effect on a Super Sunday as it will be a fresh start with both outfits charged up for the final.
There are interesting mini-battles inside the big one. Gayle will be up against Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis. This looks a mouth-watering prospect. Sunil Narine will be bowling to some of the best batsmen who play spin very well.
It is difficult to pick a winner from this but the presence of Gayle certainly tilts the scale towards the Caribbean side. But if the big man fails on the big day, they could be bidding goodbye to the Cup.
Sri Lanka's path to final
Group Stage (Group C)
Super Eight (Group 1, topped group with all-win record, 3 wins, 6 points)
West Indies' path to final
Group Stage (Group B)
Super Eight (Group 1, finished second with 4 points)
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Dinesh Chandimal, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Akila Dananjaya, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Jeevan Mendis, Dilshan Munaweera, Thisara Perera, Kumar Sangakkara (wicketkeeper), Lahiru Thirimanne.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (captain), Dwayne Bravo, Samuel Badree, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin (wicketkeeper), Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith.
Umpires: Simon Taufel (Australia) and Aleem Dar (Pakistan)
Third umpire: Rod Tucker (Australia)
Fourth umpire: Ian Gould (England)
Match Referee: Jeff Crowe (New Zealand)
Match starts at 7.00 PM IST
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