A day after beating Pakistan in the virtual quarterfinal of the ICC World Twenty20, the West Indies hit the ground running on Wednesday to prepare for their semifinal against Sri Lanka on Thursday.
Darren Sammy & Co. are desperate to retain their crown and must defeat the very side they overcame in the final two years ago. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are hoping to avenge that heartbreaking loss on home soil. They have made it to the last-four stage on four occasions and played in two finals, but never managed to go all the way.
Going into this blockbuster of a contest, one can't really pick a favourite because both teams have played some wonderful cricket. There is little to choose between them.
Having played all their games in Dhaka, the West Indies could have a slight advantage. The Lankans were in Chittagong all this while and their spinners struggled to grip the ball thanks to excessive dew in the port city. The Dinesh Chandimal-led side will have to quickly adapt to the different conditions, and challenges, which Dhaka presents.
Emphatic wins over Australia and Pakistan hold the Windies in good stead. They haven't looked back after that listless performance against India in the opener. However, their head-to-head record against Sri Lanka in the World Twenty20 isn't anything to write home about. They have won just once in five attempts.
It is said the format suits the West Indies because of the kind of players they possess. Their biggest strength is their batting. With the likes of Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo and even Darren Sammy among the ranks, the Caribbean superstars are a force to reckon with.
Sri Lanka may not have big hitters, but have matchwinners in Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. However, the form of the senior batsmen is a worry for the team. The trio will have to come good on Thursday.
On the spin front, the teams are on an even keel. Sri Lanka have the likes of Rangana Herath, fresh from a brilliant 5/3 against New Zealand, Sachithra Senanayake and Ajantha Mendis. The Windies have Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree.
West Indies skipper Sammy was confident of putting up a good show. "In the last World Cup, the mission was to win the World Cup. This year it's to retain or defend the title. It's something no team has done before. We are very confident we can do it," he told the media on the eve of the clash.
Praising his boys for their commitment, Sammy said, "(The) guys wanted a day off after playing but we're here practising (after Tuesday's win against Pakistan). (It) shows our focus. We are committed to the goal we left the Caribbean with, which is to defend the title. We broke it down in phases. We only have two more steps to take. We'll focus on the semi-finals and once we're in the final, anything is possible."