By Wisden India staff in Mirpur
Guess god wanted Mahela, Sangakkara to leave the game on a high, says West Indies captain, reconciled to loss in rain-hit semifinal
West Indies, the defending champions, had laboured to 80 for 4 in 13.5 overs, chasing 161 for victory in the first semifinal against Sri Lanka on Thursday (April 3) night when the skies opened up. The outfield at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium resembled a white carpet as hailstones rained on the ground, and the match was finally called off with Sri Lanka declared winners by 27 runs on the D/L method.
When someone called West Indies ‘truly the raining champions’, Sammy allowed himself a hearty chuckle. “That’s a good one,” he guffawed, then calmed down to add, “It’s disappointing to come out of the tournament like this but credit to Sri Lanka. They won the toss, batted first. Probably they knew that some weather was around. But we have had a good run in this tournament, it is just sad that we got knocked out by the D/L system. But that’s life. You move on and we will start planning for the next World T20.”
West Indies took 17 runs off the first over from Nuwan Kulasekara but then got bogged down as Sachithra Senanayake and Lasith Malinga, the captain for the day, put the brakes on. Malinga also fired out openers Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith in the same over to rock the holders.
“Gayle and Smith have a very clear idea of how they want to go and play. The first over, we were off to a flyer but they brought on the off-spinner and Malinga, who bowled really well at Gayle and Smith. We were again behind the eight-ball and just when (Dwayne) Bravo looked like picking it up like he did in the last game, he got out but we still have the belief that we could get 12 runs an over in the last six, we have been doing that in this tournament. It is just disappointing but there is nothing we could do about it.”
All tournament, West Indies has waited for Gayle and Marlon Samuels to come to the party, but neither man really turned up. Gayle made 143 runs in five innings, but struck at an uncharacteristic 107.51 per 100 balls, while Samuels only managed 86 runs, his strike rate a poor 81.13. On Thursday, between them, they made 21 off 42 deliveries with 27 dot balls, and the eventual margin was 27 runs. “When you lose a cricket game, people tend to point out all different areas where that should have happened, this should have happened. But I am sure if you look at all the games we have played, there are more than 27 dots – probably 50-something dots,” Sammy pointed out. “It’s not ideal for T20 but we’ve developed a formula in which that works for us.
“We know we are boundary-hitting team, we know we have got to improve in rotating the strike but if you look at the way Gayle plays, he normally gives himself some time to get used to the wicket and catch up in the end. But the thing is, this tournament he has not carried. Marlon has not been batting well for us. We always tell him, whatever rate you walk into, you try to keep it at that or increase it. Yes, we could say Marlon has not had the best of tournaments but he is one of our better batsmen and in the last (edition), he was the star for us. People have a few dips in form, hopefully we could dust ourselves off and come again. We have got a lot of cricket this year, so we are looking forward to that.”
After defeating Sri Lanka in the last World T20 final in Colombo in October 2012, Sammy had spoken of the ‘Hand of God’ in West Indies going all the way. Of what happened this time around, he said, “I took it like you know what, we have won a (World T20). We are a praying team, we know god normally answers our prayers but today, I guess two gentlemen (Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who are bidding adieu to T20 International cricket after this tournament) who have played for Sri Lanka, given a lot not only to Sri Lanka cricket but cricket on the whole, I guess the Almighty wants them to leave on a high.
“They have one more game to try and win (the title) and leave on a high. Probably that’s the reason why god put a hand in this match. I am sure I will have another shot at playing the World T20 and we are looking forward to winning it again in the near future.”
Having embraced diplomacy on the Gayle-Samuels issue, Sammy was back to his frank self when he was asked who he thought would go on to win the title from here. “To me right now, it doesn’t matter. I was looking forward to raising the trophy, come the 6th (Sunday). Now I am just gonna watch and hopefully it’s very entertaining, it’s not one-sided if fans get an exciting game of cricket, firstly the semifinal tomorrow,” he said, knocking on wood. “I guess I would wish all the teams the best and hopefully the best team wins. I will enjoy sitting at home watching. I will be gutted that I won’t be playing but yes, I will watch a good final.”