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When Brazil bow out of a football World Cup, it’s not just the broken hearts they leave behind. It would seem like the life has been sucked out of the football extravaganza. The Samba in the stands and fan zones are gone, and the spontaneous 24x7 party atmosphere the Brazilians bring with them.
If defending champions West Indies bow out of the World T20, losing to twice runners-up and Asia Cup champions Sri Lanka in the semifinal on Thursday, the tournament will lose its beat. Chris Gayle and his Gangnam dance, Dwayne Bravo breaking into a jig every time he takes a catch, the stands swaying with the Calypso Boys after every win all make them the crowd favourites now that Bangladesh and Pakistan are out.
West Indies are confident their tournament motto “One team, one goal” will galvanise them to become the first team ever to defend this title. “We are just two steps away from our goal, which we redefined this time. Last time it was to win the title, now it is to retain it,” said skipper Darren Sammy.
Watch video: Our mission is to retain T20 world cup, says Darren Sammy
WI defeated hosts Sri Lanka to win the title in 2012. “We defeated them in the warm-up game for this tournament too,” Sammy added.
WI have also spent time acclimatising to the conditions here and have a long line of match-winners. Sri Lanka played their league matches in Chittagong but won the Asia Cup here a few weeks back and are confident getting used to conditions won’t be an issue.
The toss will be vital, and then it will be a battle between two sets of crafty spinners and power-hitters. West Indies boast of two of the world’s best spinners in Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine. Sri Lanka have a problem of plenty on that front. Sachitra Senanayeke and Rangana Herath lead the pack; sitting out is Ajantha Mendis, who can walk into any team, given the purchase tweakers have got in these conditions. That Bravo and Sammy batted the opposition out in the last two games, against Australia and Pakistan, even with Gayle not at his destructive best, adds to their confidence. “Once West Indies turn up, West Indies are dangerous,” Sammy declared.