World Twenty20 2012: Sri Lanka aim for final success on home soil
World Twenty20 2012: Matt Cansick takes a look at the talking points ahead of Sunday's showpiece
Hosts looking to deliver
Sri Lanka have reached the final of their home tournament and will be dreaming of a fairytale finish. In a closely contested game, Pakistan were unable to reach the target of 140 set for them by the hosts, restricted by some disciplined bowing from Mahela Jayawardene’s side. He had top scored with 42 as Sri Lanka posted a score that looked like it may not have been enough to seal victory. However, two wickets in two balls from Rangana Herath swung the momentum of the game back towards Sri Lanka, and Pakistan ended up 16 runs short. Bowler Ajantha Mendis added two more wickets to his tournament tally and he will be confident of overhauling Shane Watson – both have 11 – as the leading wicket taker.
Australia blown away
Chris Gayle put on yet another display of powerful hitting as his 75 from just 41 balls supplemented by Kieron Pollard’s 38 from 15 and set the West Indies well on their way to a formidable total of 205-4. In reply, Australia were immediately on the back foot with the loss of David Warner for one. Key man Watson was unable to replicate his form of earlier in the tournament, managing just seven with the bat having leaked 35 runs for no reward with the ball. What was already a daunting task soon became insurmountable, and were it not for an impressive fightback from captain George Bailey (63 from 29), the margin of defeat would have been far greater.
Sri Lanka aiming to clear final hurdle
Despite being one of the most consistent sides in both one-day formats in the last decade, Sri Lanka have so far been unable to take that final step and win their first tournament since the 1996 World Cup. Having lost 50-over World Cup finals in both 2007 and 2011, they were also unable to post a victory in the 2009 World Twenty20 final, and what better way to avenge these defeats than by winning a tournament on home soil. Mendis can be, and has been, a match winning bowler on his day, and they do possess batsmen such as their captain who have produced the goods in a major final in the past. If they are able to harness the support of the crowd, this may present their best opportunity to lift a trophy in recent years.
West Indies capable of spoiling the party
The West Indies head into the final with a huge amount of confidence, and with good reason. Their most important players are hitting form at the perfect time and they are more than capable of avenging their defeat in the Super Eights stage of the competition. On that occasion, the Sri Lankans completely overpowered their opponents, winning by nine wickets after Mendis restricted the West Indies to 129-5, with the hosts’ captain Jayarwardene and Kumar Sangakkara wasting no time in chasing down the required total. Should they bat first, it will be interesting to see if Gayle and company are able to post a score closer to that which has propelled them into the final, at which point Sri Lanka will really know what it feels like to have the weight of a nation on their shoulders.