Mirpur: The first semi-final at the ICC World Twenty20 here on Thursday is a rematch of the 2012 final between West Indies and Sri Lanka.
The Windies came out on top that time and they will hope their big-hitting batsmen, led by Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo, can fire them into another final.
But Sri Lanka, who have the disadvantage of having played all their group stage games in Chittagong, have a weapon of their own in the shape of left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who took five wickets for three runs against New Zealand on Monday.
So whether it will be a day for spinners or batsmen day at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium here is keeping every fan guessing. Going by the trend of the pitch, it is spinners who have stolen the thunder, with India’s Amit Mishra and Ravichandran Ashwin and West Indies’ Samuel Badree picking up wickets with ease.
But the wicket has also favoured the West Indies batsman, who smashed Pakistan out of the tournament on Tuesday.
Sri Lanka had an intense training session on Wednesday under the watchful eyes of their coach Paul Farbrace. When he was asked whether that 2012 final defeat haunts his team, Farbrace said: “Twenty20 is about whoever turns up on that particular day. Form goes out of the window. It’s about making sure we’re ready and focused.
“What happened two years ago won’t even be talked about, I can assure you. We come off the back of a magnificent win over New Zealand, who were a good side and we managed to beat them pretty convincingly.”
Key to Sri Lanka’s hopes could be whether or not the wicket will be as helpful to Herath as the one in Chittagong. “I’m not sure Rangana Herath will ever find a wicket more helpful than the one he found in Chittagong the other evening,” Farbrace said. “We’ve all talked about the fact that wickets have become slower over the course of the competition. But the tough thing for us in Chittagong was that the wickets got slower and drier and the outfield got wetter and wetter.
“We’ve spent a little bit of time playing here in the last few months. We know coming here that the wickets will turn. But again, it’s about making sure you get the right pace.”
When West Indies skipper Darren Sammy was asked whether Herath could be a threat, he replied in his normal cool way: “The off-spinners are the ones who have got wickets against us so we don’t mind their left-arm-spinner. Hopefully we don’t play him as the New Zealanders did.
“We know what we are going to come across or against, but this bunch of guys in the dressing room is very confident even when everything seems gloomy. We still have the belief that the personnel out in the middle can do the job for us, as we showed in the last two games.”
Sri Lanka vs West Indies
First semi-final at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, Dhaka
Thursday, 5pm UAE start. Live telecast on OSN Sports Cricket HD