West Indies may have started as the favorites to win the 2012 T20 World Cup, but when it comes to T20 matches against Sri Lanka the thought of victory for West Indies is nothing less than an upset considering they are yet to register a win against SL in 4 T20 matches, having lost all. Interestingly all the losses have been recorded in World Cups. Yet, the finals of T20 World Cup 2012 supports them as winner.
In T20s they have met twice in 2009, losing at Group Stage and then in the semifinal. 2010 World Cup saw losing them in Super Stage. 2012 World Cup has already saw Sri Lanka winning again in the Super Stage by 9 wickets.
Sri Lanka started being respected as a Cricketing nation when West Indies threat was dying in the World Cricket. Despite winning the first two ODI World Cups and a history of ruling World Test Cricket for decades, the 2004 victory by West Indies in the ICC Champions Trophy was nothing more than a surprise. They could never capitalise on that victory also to regain the respect from other nations.
Sri Lanka on the other hand is more synonymous with all types of records in Test, ODIs and even T20 Cricket. Highest runs, biggest wins, biggest partnerships and bowling records are only few of the examples of the impeccable mark they have left on modern cricket.
After winning the 1996 ODI World Cup, they have become the fourth team after West Indies, England and Australia to have reached the ODI World Cup finals on two consecutive Cups. Even in T20 World Cup they hold the joint record of reaching two finals. They have not only ruled West Indies in T20, but also hold second best team record after Pakistan.
On top of all the records, at home Sri Lankan team has been considered almost invincible at home. Their current run of 5 wins in 6 matches affirms the belief even in T20. Yet, a final match of World Cup is never known to have respect for history and what record states.
West Indies have proved why they were considered the favorite. They have hit almost every team, except Sri Lanka out of the park with strong hits, superb fielding and some respectable bowling. The pitch may decide who will get more advantage. But, if spin helps Sri Lankans more, West Indies have Badree and Narine as the vital turners of the match with Samuels and Gayle proving more than handy on crucial moments.
In batting there is no line-up better than what West Indies have at present. Gayle, Samuels, Pollard and Dwayn Bravo are known for their T20 runs while Charles, Sammy and Russell have helped with useful batting. On top of that all of them can hit sixes and boundaries without any extra effort.
Sri Lanka on the other hand is still dependent on the oldies for a good score. Even the oldies trio of Mahela, Dilshan and Sangakkara have not led them to a total above 180 so far in 6 innings. Mathews, Perera and others have proved good for few hits only.
Ajantha Mendis, Jeevan Mendis and Herath/Dananjaya have held all the teams for ransom spinning them out of their mind. Malinga is without doubt the best bowler in shorter formats. Kulasekara is known to be good during death overs. During semifinal even Mathews was dangerous. Yet, the same bowling failed when it came to a match where they were attacked.
The match which they lost against South Africa was rain hit. But the fact was that both teams knew that they have 7 overs to play. When South African batsmen started to hammer fearlessly, the same bowling unit was running for covers. And then the Sri Lankan batsmen could not chase with the same pace and failed to even come close to the target.
When they meet West Indies in the final, Sri Lankans would know that what South Africa did to them in just 7 overs, the Carribeans can continue the same music for 20 overs. No other team than Australia can explain them the truth better.
Toss may be the key factor. Yet with fearlessness in mind West Indies may not mind even chasing the total, although setting a target is always safer in the finals, history confirms it.
While Sri Lanka has reputation at stake added by the extra pressure of winning the cup at home, still after losing another final in ODI World Cup last year against India, experts around the globe know that the current Sri Lankan team despite having a lot of talented guys around considers Final matches as extra special and that adds to pressure.
Unlike SL, West Indies have nothing to lose. Reaching the final is a big achievement for them. And the fearless cricket they play would be the key factor when they win the 2012 World Cup tomorrow.