Friday, June 19, 2009

Dilshan Powers Sri Lanka to T20 World Cup Cricket Final

Tillakartne Dilshan's memorable tournament continued as he produced an almost single-handed display to give Sri Lanka a total to defend at The Oval. While his team-mates struggled to find much momentum, Dilshan batted through the innings to hit an unbeaten 96 off 57 balls, the highest score of the event, as Sri Lanka reached 158 for 5.

The innings was limping at 77 for 3 in the 12th over after three wickets had gone for four runs in nine balls when Dilshan and Chamara Silva added 50 to set a platform for the closing overs. It looked as though Dilshan would have time to register the first hundred of the tournament, but he lost the strike during the closing stages and needing six off the final ball to reach three figures could only clubbed a two over midwicket. However, the final five overs had brought 60 and this is the sort of target Sri Lanka have defended throughout the two weeks.

Jayasuriya and Dilshan began cautiously as 12 came off the first three overs, but Dilshan sparked the innings into life with two flicks over short fine-leg against Jerome Taylor, the second which carried for six such was Dilshan's brilliant timing. In the next over, Dwayne Bravo's first, he took three more boundaries through the off side, but it was shaping as a one-man show for Sri Lanka.

Jayasuriya was having a major struggle and changed his bat four times during a painful 37-ball 24. He has a host of mannerisms at the crease and Jayasuriya rarely looked comfortable with each new blade even though he managed two leg-side boundaries off Sulieman Benn.

Dilshan was having no such concerns as he deftly guided Chris Gayle through third man and followed that with a thumping six over deep midwicket. It was like watching two different games, but the opening stand was ended in the 11th over when Jayasuriya's stay was ended when he top-edged Bravo to short fine-leg.

Two balls later a cracking catch at point by Kieron Pollard sent back the key figure of Kumar Sangakkara for a duck. West Indies were suddenly full of energy and their mood improved further when Mahela Jayawardene managed to pick out short fine-leg when clipped a ball from Pollard, which should have gone for four, straight to the fielder.

It was down to Dilshan to give Sri Lanka's strong attack something to defend. Darren Sammy produced a superb comeback as he hit his yorkers to allow just three from the 13th over, but in the next over Dilshan, who reached his fifty off 30 balls, cashed in on two full tosses by Pollard. Placement was key to Dilshan's innings and each time the bowlers strayed he managed to make the most of it.

The innings found some vital momentum in the 17th over when Bravo was taken for 18 as he struggled to find his length. Dilshan cracked three boundaries and Silva then joined in when he swung the final delivery one bounce to the square-leg rope. Silva's contribution to a stand of 50 in six overs was just 11 before he fell trying to reverse hit Benn.

Jehan Mubarak found the boundary once before falling to an acrobatic catch by Sammy at deep square-leg, who initially misjudged the ball on a gloomy evening before throwing himself forward to cling onto the ball. It was West Indies best fielding display of the tournament, only marred by a couple of slips in the final over.

And the last over could prove the key. Angelo Mathews swung a big six over long-on then followed it with a straight boundary and although Dilshan fell short of a memorable century there was a feeling the momentum was just with Sri Lanka. But it's still too close to call.

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1 comment:

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