Lasith Malinga's double-strike enabled Sri Lanka take a firm grip over West Indies in Thursday's first semifinal of the ICC World Twenty 20. Malinga, who led Sri Lanka in the absence of regular captain Dinesh Chandimal, removed a sluggish Chris Gayle and a dangerous Dwayne Smith in a space of five balls to derail a Caribbean onslaught. (Sri Lanka win by D/L method to enter final)
Needing 161 for a win, West Indies made a brisk start but Malinga's 2-0-5-2 spell switched the momentum Lanka's way. The match was finally decided by Duckworth-Lewis, but West Indies needed a miracle to win the contest. The match was special for Malinga. With 38 wickets (average19.36) in 30 games, Malinga has set a record for most wickets at the World Twenty20, obliterating the 36 (average 16.86) in 23 matches by Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal. (Scorecard)
Lanka's veteran stars - Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara - had contrasting lucks. While Dilshan struck a run-a-ball 39 and has managed 226 runs at an average of 56.50 in six matches against the West Indies, including two fifties in T20Is, Jayawardene's first duck versus the West Indies was his fourth in T20Is. Sangakkara scored just one run off six balls. (Highlights)
Jayawardene and Sangakkara are playing their last T20 international tournament, but are certainly leaving the national side in good hands. Lahiru Thirimanne (44 off 35 balls), who came in place of the out-of-form Chandimal, posted a career-best score in T20I, obliterating the 30 off 25 balls against Pakistan at Hambantota on June 1, 2012. (Pics)
But the man who made the biggest difference was ODI and Test skipper Angelo Mathews. Matthews (40 off 23 balls) recorded his highest score against the West Indies in T20Is, surpassing the 12 not out off four balls at The Oval on June 19, 2009. (Almighty wanted Sangakkara, Mahela to win a World Cup: Sammy)
Thursday's Man of the Match Mathews defended the decision to rest Chandimal. "It was a collective decision," Mathews said. "The selectors, management and Chandimal [decided]. We have to do what is best for the team all the time, regardless of who you are. I think he opted out because he wanted the best XI on the park. So I think it was a great and brave decision."
Not everything was damp for the Caribbeans. Leg-spinner Samuel Badree, with 11 wickets at an average of 10.27 in five matches, set a West Indian record for most wickets in a series at the World Twenty20, eclipsing the 10 (ave.18.40) in six matches by Dwayne Bravo in 2009.
(With inputs from Rajesh Kumar)