World Twenty20 2012: Lessons ahead of the semi-finals in Sri Lanka
World Twenty20 2012: Matt Cansick looks at the talking points ahead of the semi-final stage, which starts on Thursday
England relinquish title
Sri Lanka finally put paid to England’s hopes of hanging on to what was their first global one-day title. Always behind in the run chase, the dogged resistance shown by Samit Patel and Graeme Swann was ultimately in vain as three wickets in one over from the outstanding Lasith Malinga proved decisive. The Sri Lankan quick bowler ended up with figures of 5-31, and at times, and at times one almost felt that even if the England batsmen knew they were about to face a yorker, there would have been little they could have done about it. He will be crucial to the hosts’ designs on winning the tournament.
The draw for the last four, which pits Australia against the West Indies and Sri Lanka against Pakistan, means there is a very real possibility that the most impressive side, Australia, will end up facing the hosts, in what would be viewed by many as a dream final. However, Pakistan’s return to form during the Super Eights – culminating in a fine victory over the Australians, and the batting prowess of the West Indies, mean that this is anything but a given. Shane Watson will also be hoping he has not peaked too soon. Whoever ends up in the showpiece game will certainly have earned their place.
Big names fall
England flattered to deceive for much of this tournament, never quite looking as solid as they did in 2010. India were another side who failed to reach the semi-finals, missing the cut on the run-rate despite winning their final match against South Africa. The Proteas themselves had a very disappointing tournament, at no point putting together a performance that would have seen them emerge as genuine contenders. New Zealand can count themselves a little unlucky having lost another super-over decider. It is a familiar story for the Black Caps, who have a number of talented one day players, but seem unable to force their way into a final.
No clear favourite
While Australia have probably made the biggest impact on the tournament, Sri Lanka will have the crowd on their side and an added spring in their step playing at home. The West Indies may have already lost to Australia in the initial group stage, but Chris Gayle is a mercurial talent who can single-handedly win a game on his day. All eyes will be on Watson and Gayle in their semi-final. Pakistan may arguably be the least fancied, but they demonstrated against Australia that when they hit their stride, they are extremely hard to beat. It really is anybody’s guess who will be lifting the trophy in Colombo on Sunday.