Colombo: Captain Darren Sammy had been hoping for the “A game” from his team and he wasn’t disappointed in the World Twenty20 semi-final against Australia.
As a bonus, Sammy got a near-perfect exhibition of the gangnam dance, which has become a rage in recent months, from MoM Chris Gayle.
In fact, Yuvraj Singh has been proved spot on, for it will be a Sri Lanka versus the West Indies final on Sunday. A highly consistent team against one which packs too much heavy ammo.
Powered by Gayle’s unbeaten 75 (41 balls, 5x4, 6x6), the West Indies crushed Australia by 74 runs at the R. Premadasa Stadium on Friday.
It was an innings which showed Gayle in a different light, willing to bat for the 20 overs and not play to the galleries.
Some 30 hours earlier, Gayle told The Telegraph that he wanted to make up for the 15 months lost owing to his differences with the powers-that-be. He’s on the right track.
Asked if there were moments when he felt hopeless, Australia’s captain George Bailey was candid: “Gayle can do that to you... We got outplayed..."
“It’s a hard one (the loss)... Sitting here I feel we could have won the tournament, but we’ve been outplayed by a team far better on the day... It stings.”
Bailey, who managed to smile despite the massive defeat, acknowledged that the “two best teams” had made the final. For Sri Lanka to win, they’ll have to get Gayle before he crosses 20.
Daunting, isn't it?
Sammy called correctly and, as in the Sri Lanka-Pakistan semi-final, losing the toss appeared to unsettle the team having to bat second.
Not that the wicket actually had demons coming out every now and then.
Sri Lanka will be praying that the mood-driven Gayle doesn’t have one of those days when he “could do something crazy.”
Gayle didn’t have much of the strike early on, but quickly moved into the destructive gear. Indeed, 56 of his runs came off only 11 hits.
Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo batted around Gayle and, later, Kieron Pollard lashed 38 off 15.
“It was important for me not to panic and to not lose focus (when he hardly got the strike)... One can build an innings... At the end, a bit of power helped and we put up a really good batting display,” Gayle said.
That’s an understatement as the West Indies posted the first 200-plus total of this edition.
When Gayle was smashing sixes at will, fellow-Jamaican and buddy Usain Bolt tweeted “Jamaicans rock.”
It sure is turning out to be a season for Jamaicans.
“We’re happy to be in the final... It’s one more hurdle and the Sri Lankans haven’t lost a game... It’s a challenge, but we aren’t under pressure,” Gayle maintained.
Gayle was in discomfort after batting through the 20 overs. “It was difficult to breathe... I felt winded up... I took my time for things to settle.”
Gone are the days when the West Indies quicks operated at both ends, irrespective of the conditions. On Friday, Samuel Badree and Samuels opened.
Burdened by the stiff ask, Australia plunged to 43 for six before the only partnership of substance took root. Bailey hammered 63, but described those runs as “hollow.”
The loss, clearly, hurt the Australia captain.
Ravi Rampaul, often underrated, returned the best figures. Incidentally, when Sunil Narine came on, half the Australians were back in the ‘hut’.
It was a very un-Australia-like performance. Not that the Sammys are complaining.