The Sri Lankans go into the final of this T20 Cricket World Cup as clear favourites and with the added benefit of home advantage, it isn’t surprising to see them heading the bookmakers’ odds (2pm BST, Sunday).
They are a consistent unit with an assortment of world class performers in their batting and bowling line ups and were always going to offer value as the second favourites before the tournament began.
The momentum however is with the West Indies after a crushing defeat over Australia on Friday. That momentum has been provided largely by one man but will Darren Sammy’s squad have a major injury concern over Chris Gayle that could affect their hopes of lifting the trophy?
Gayle was at his best during that semi-final win but he also showed patience and maturity when other batsmen were dominating the strike. The big Jamaican was there right until the end and his 75 from 41 balls helped towards a total of 205 that was far beyond Australia.
Gayle is crucial to Windies’ hopes but a side strain that required on field treatment must be a concern. There are no reports as to the extent of this injury but the physio team will be doing all they can to get their main man fit enough to step onto the field.
It is important to emphasise however that the West Indies are not a one-man team when it comes to their batting. Gayle has received huge support in the latter stages of this tournament from Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo while Kieron Pollard was back to his best against Australia and proving just why he commands so many IPL dollars.
For Sri Lanka, their ‘big three’ will be crucial to this contest: Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara have all been in good form but it’s the skipper Jaywardene who has been the most consistent, getting his side off to useful starts with a string of scores over 40.
Darren Sammy’s men will therefore be desperate to get Mahela early in order to disrupt that momentum. Even if those first three batsmen were to fail, the middle order of Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera and Jeevan Mendis have all been in excellent form when they’ve been called upon.
As for the bowling attacks, the key to this contest as far as the West Indies are concerned lies with Sunil Narine. The 24-year-old Trinidadian has secured victories for his home side when it seemed as if the games were lost and figures of 2-17 in the semi-final from three overs underline just how economical Narine is, even when he isn’t taking wickets.
This is a department however where the Windies may rely too heavily on one man whereas the Sri Lankans have two main spearheads in Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis. If you’re looking for reasons to back the hosts, this is one area where they have an advantage over Sammy’s team.
Sri Lanka v West Indies Betting Tips
Overall, having backed the West Indies to upset the odds in their semi-final of this T20 cricket World Cup, they should go on to take the trophy here. Expect a powerful performance led by Gayle at the top of the order while Narine’s world class mystery spin should prove vital when the Sri Lankans come to bat.