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Flair all round as Sri Lanka face Windies

These are two teams who, before the World T20 began, weren't exactly the bookmakers' favourites to make the last-four grade. But Sri Lanka and the West Indies have proved to be worthy challengers for the trophy, reports Venkat Ananth.

cricket Updated: Jun 18, 2009 23:13 IST
Venkat Ananth

These are two teams who, before the World T20 began, weren't exactly the bookmakers' favourites to make the last-four grade. But Sri Lanka and the West Indies have proved to be worthy challengers for the trophy. While the Lankans have been unbeaten right through the tournament, the West Indies have produced performances that won't be forgotten easily.

Sri Lanka’s campaign began on a high. They eliminated the Ashes-obsessed Australians and beat their semifinal rivals, the West Indies in the group stage. Then they set up a SuperEights clean-sweep. Sri Lanka's performance in this tournament has been spotless, barring the slip-up against Ireland. Knowing Sangakkara, that low-margin win would only have acted as a wake-up call for the Lankans.

The thrust at the top, led by Tillakaratne Dilshan and Sanath Jayasuriya, has been the driving force behind Sri Lanka's success. Add Sangakkara's form and Mahela Jayawardene's unconventional stroke-play and the threat level goes up a few notches.

If anything, the lower middle-order with Chamara Silva and Jehan Mubarak seems untested. One of the most varied attacks on view, Sri Lanka’s bowling seems to be firing every single time. Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan have struck form at the right time, adding to the already on-song Lasith Malinga, Isuru Udana and Angelo Mathews.

The West Indies, on the other hand, have had a rough English summer. To cap off a difficult summer with a tournament win would be desirable for Chris Gayle's men. Every single West Indies batsman has contributed in the wins.

Their bowling has been aggressive, with Jerome Taylor leading the charge. Dwayne Bravo has been the hero, shining with both bat and ball, and he could make the difference come Friday. Fidel Edwards could be ruled out due to injury.

If ever the West Indies hoped for a perfect end to a horror summer, this is it. Friday's match could well send them into the final lap. The Oval braces up for another exciting classic between two teams that play only one brand of cricket — aggressive and exciting.