From the publishers of THE HINDU
VOL.32 :: NO.26 :: Jun. 27, 2009
Tillekeratne Dilshan made an invaluable 96 not out.
Tillekeratne Dilshan is the batsman of the ICC World Twenty20 and he has been the brightest star. His unbeaten 96 in the second semifinal at the Oval took one’s breath away. His spirit-lifting stroke-play was bold and inventive. He was swift with his footwork and struck the ball with power or coaxed it into the open spaces with soft hands. Even as the West Indian bowlers made serious inroads — skipper Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene departed in quick succession in the middle overs — Dilshan batted with great responsibility.
The right-hander’s placements were spot on and when he hit the ball hard, he picked his spots. There is nothing indecisive about his batsmanship. The Lankan innings revolved around the intrepid opener. He got inside the line of short-pitched deliveries from the pacemen to harness the pace on the ball, even over the keeper’s head.
Dilshan also moved towards the leg-stump and created space to slam the ball between point and cover. There were also occasions when he stood still and struck the ball, his bat-speed doing the damage.
Sri Lanka — 98 for three after the 15th over — collected a whopping 60 off the last five overs. These were crucial runs; the Lankans eventually won the match by 57 runs.
While Dilshan’s batting was inspirational, seamer Angelo Matthews emerged the unlikely hero for Sri Lanka. His sensational strikes in the opening over jolted the West Indians. Creditably, Matthews hit the straps from the start even as he bowled to a well thought-out plan.
Xavier Marshall and Dwayne Bravo — his first and third strikes — were probed just outside their off-stump.
Unsure whether to play or leave and pushing forward tentatively, Marshall and Bravo played on. In the same over Matthews switched his line to leg and Lendl Simmons, playing across and exposing his leg-stump, was bowled off his thigh pad.
Angelo Mathews (third from left)settled the issue in the first over with three deadly strikes.
Skipper Chris Gayle carried his bat with a 50-ball 63. Even as wickets fell around him, he waged a lone fight with some typically effortless blows that sped past the fielders or landed in the stands. It was a heroic effort by the West Indian captain. No other batsman reached double figures in the innings.
After Matthews had left the West Indians bleeding at the start, spinner Mutthiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis choked the flow of runs on a dry wicket. To make the job harder for the West Indian batsmen, the ball was not coming on to the bat in the second-half of the match.
Mendis bowled stump-to-stump and brought his subtle variations into play. He mixed his carom ball with the back-of-the-hand stuff and the one that skidded through straight. Muralitharan bowled skilfully from round-the-wicket, spinning the ball across, getting a few of his deliveries to straighten and — if he felt the batsman would step down — slip a quicker one down the leg-side.
The West Indian batsmen, Gayle apart, were baffled by the variety in the Lankan spin attack. They struggled to force the pace and hit out in desperation. The Lankans picked wickets. Soon it was all over — the West Indies had been bundled out for 101.
Earlier, Gayle opted to chase. The West Indies attack was without the fiery Fidel Edwards — the paceman was nursing a back injury — but this should not take any credit away from Dilshan.
Sanath Jayasuriya struggled to find his bearings — the West Indian pacemen bowled fuller and straighter at the left-hander denying him width or space — but Dilshan continued to find or clear the boundaries.
He walked back to a roar of appreciation at the end of the innings.
Second semifinal: Sri Lanka v West Indies. Result: Sri Lanka won by 57 runs.
Sri Lanka: T. Dilshan (not out) 96; S. Jayasuriya c Taylor b Bravo 24; K. Sangakkara c Pollard b Bravo 0; M. Jayawardene c Chanderpaul b Pollard 2; C. Silva c Ramdin b Benn 11; J. Mubarak c Sammy b Taylor 7; A. Mathews (not out) 12; Extras (lb-3, w-3) 6. Total (for five wkts., in 20 overs) 158.
Fall of wickets: 1-73, 2-73, 3-77, 4-127, 5-134.
West Indies bowling: Sammy 4-0-19-0; Taylor 4-0-31-1; Bravo 3-0-32-2; Benn 4-0-24-1; Gayle 3-0-35-0; Pollard 2-0-14-1.
West Indies: C. Gayle (not out) 63; X. Marshall b Mathews 0; L. Simmons b Mathews 0; D. Bravo b Mathews 0; S. Chanderpaul lbw b Mendis 7; R. Sarwan c Mathews b Muralitharan 5; K. Pollard st. Sangakkara b Muralitharan 3; D. Ramdin c Jayawardene b Udana 9; J. Taylor c (sub) b Muralitharan 2; D. Sammy c Mubarak b Mendis 1; S. Benn b Malinga 0; Extras (b-1, lb-2, w-7, nb-1) 11. Total (in 17.4 overs) 101.
Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-1, 3-1, 4-43, 5-64, 6-75, 7-86, 8-95, 9-97.
Sri Lanka bowling: Mathews 4-0-16-3; Udana 3-0-20-1; Malinga 2.4-0-24-1; Mendis 4-0-9-2; Muralitharan 4-0-29-3.
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