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WI squeeze in

Barry Wilkinson in Sri Lanka

WI squeeze in

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KANDY – There is no drama on international television that would have commanded or captivated the attention of viewers as did the West Indies’ pulsating entry into the semi-finals of the ICC World Twenty20 yesterday.
Even though the West Indies sent hearts thumping with a sensational Super Over victory over New Zealand, their semi-final place was not assured until four hours later when Sri Lanka thumped England at the Pallekele International Stadium.
Both Sri Lanka and West Indies will know their semi-final opposition today when Group 2 climaxes in Colombo.
Asked to bat first on another dusty track, West Indies made a disappointing 139 all out in 19.4 overs.
Had New Zealand won, West Indies would
have finished last in the Group and been eliminated, but instead, a brilliant run-out off the last ball by substitute Dwayne Smith left scores tied with New Zealand ending the 20th over on 139 for seven.
It meant that for the second time New Zealand were involved in a Super Over eliminator to decide the result of the match as it did when they fell to Sri Lanka last Thursday.
They made a competitive 17 without loss off Marlon Samuels’ over with Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum leading the charge.
With the very first ball, Chris Gayle eased the pressure when he sent a full toss off a no-ball from Tim Southee sailing into the stands for six. He only picked up a single from the free hit, while he and Samuels compiled singles and twos from the deliveries in between.
The equation was five runs from two balls and Samuels launched a full toss for six for West Indies to win with a ball to spare.
At one stage, victory didn’t seem imminent.
Gayle led the way with 30 early on, but only Kieron Pollard with 28 and Samuels (24) added any value, as West Indies tinkered with their line-up by sending Andre Russell to pinch hit at No. 3.
It was a failed plan that left them at one stage on 87 for four with the majority of their leading scorers back in the pavilion.
They were also forced to include Darren Bravo, for his brother Dwayne, whose groin doesn’t seem to be improving, and reinstated leg-spinner Samuel Badree for pacer Fidel Edwards.
Defending the total, Badree was the perfect foil for “trump card” Sunil Narine, who finally came good.
Narine spun his web around the Kiwis to pick up three for 20, while Badree kept it tight with one for 18, both from four overs, respectively. Narine earned the Man Of The Match award, but wasn’t there at the end as he went off the field with a sore muscle.
It was a blessing in disguise with his substitute Smith effecting that crucial run-out of Doug Bracewell going for the second and winning run as captain Taylor threatened to steal the show in an innings of class worth 62 not out.
“I said to [the] guys straight – we don’t win this and we heading home, heads up, guys,” Sammy told NATIONSPORT.
“Marlon’s shoulder was sore, but he said ‘I want to do this, Skip’ and we trusted him to bowl the last over and the Super Over. He delivered and we will now watch and support Sri Lanka,” Sammy said.
Four hours later, Sri Lanka handed defending champions England a 19-run defeat to send them packing.
With Sri Lanka already assured of a semi-final spot, England were in a must-win situation, but they fell short of the target despite a spirited 67 from Samit Patel.