ICC World T20 2014, 1st semi-final: Key players to watch out for
Mirpur: As defending champions West Indies take on Sri Lanka in the first semi-final of the ICC World Twenty20 2014, here is the list of the key players to watch out for.
Chris Gayle: No matter which part of the world cricket is being played, Chris Gayle is someone who continues to be the most dangerous batsman in the shortest format of the game. He looked out of rhythm in the first two matches against India and Bangladesh, but the dynamic left-hander proved his mettle once against the Aussies, where he slammed 53 runs off 35 balls. The challenge ahead for Gayle is to tackle the Sri Lankan spin attack, which for sure would be an interesting contest to watch.
Sunil Narine: While Ajantha Mendis` spin has lost its sheen to a great extent, Sunil Narine remains to be the threatening `mystery spinner` in world cricket. The pitches in Bangladesh have assisted the spinners, and once again, Narine will have to play a crucial role for his side as the Lankans are known to bat well against spin. He has been more often used as a wicket-taking option, and Darren Sammy would want his go-to-man to deliver once again in a high-octane clash.
Darren Sammy: Quite often, Darren Sammy has been questioned for his place in the team. Even after he led the side to their maiden T20 Title in 2012, many believed he wasn`t the right man to lead the squad. But after a poor start in the ICC World T20 2014, Sammy single-handedly won the match for his side against Australia. He followed it with another good knock against Pakistan, where he scored 42 from 22 balls. With his medium-pace bowling, through which he has broken several partnerships in the past, Sammy is definitely a player to watch out for in the crucial semi-final.
Kumar Sangakkara: There are not many series, where Sangakkara`s form eludes him for long. Right throughout this tournament, the wicketkeeper batsman has struggled with the bat. While Sangakkara has been a force to reckon with behind the stumps, he has managed to score just 18 runs from three innings. He has been a wonderful ambassador for Sri Lankan cricket over the years, and the team management would want the wicketkeeper batsman to hit a big one in the semi-final.
Lasith Malinga: Lasith Malinga has been the go-to man for several Sri Lankan cricketers over the years. He might still be the world`s best bowler in limited-overs cricket, but Malinga was torn into pieces by Marlon Samuels, when these two sides played against each other in the final of the ICC World T20 in 2012. After Chandimal opted out of the semi-final due to poor form, expectations would be much higher from Malinga, who will also lead the side for the second time in the tournament.
Rangana Herath: It is not known whether it was a strategy by the Sri Lankan think tank to save Rangana Herath for the crucial matches, but whatever it was it helped his side to a great extent as the left-armer bamboozled the Kiwis with his varations in a must-win game. Herath would be high on confidence after scalping a five-fer against New Zealand, and the team management would want him to come up with a similar result.