Courtesy: International Cricket Council
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardena says his team has to be wary of the entire West Indies team and not just Chris Gayle if it is to win the ICC World Twenty20 2012 final.
Especially after his pyrotechnics against Australia in the semi-final on Friday night, Gayle is the cynosure as the West Indies goes into the final against the host nation on Sunday night.
Gayle smashed an unbeaten 75 off 41 deliveries at the R. Premadasa Stadium to turbo-charge the West Indies to 205-4, a total that was 74 runs beyond the reach of Australia, but Jayawardena said there was more to the West Indies than just Gayle.
“That”s not the way we have gone about this tournament,” said Jayawardena on Saturday afternoon. “We never went after individual players; we have tried to control things the way we can control. He is just another player in a very good West Indies team. We have to have our focus on the entire team and the way we analyse and have a game plan is for a team, not for individuals. Records and numbers are all there but what”s important is how you perform and need to react to situations on the day.”
Jayawardena fired the first mind-game salvo when he was asked to react to Gayle”s remark on Friday night along the lines of ?Sorry Sri Lanka, but we will win the final”. “When somebody says something like that, is the pressure on us or on him?” queried Jayawardena. “I don”t know how to react to that. Probably the pressure is on him when he has said something like that.”
Sri Lanka has lost three ICC finals in the last five years, but Jayawardena said just getting to those title rounds had been a superb feat. “It always goes back to that. Going into finals is fantastic, we don”t take it as a negative thing,” said Jayawardena. “We’ve tried our best in those finals but the other team has played better cricket, so going into this, what we will try and do is to play better cricket than the opposition, it’s as simple as that. We don”t think too far ahead of ourselves, we don”t want to go back in history and see how to overcome this. We”ll try and back our ability in what we”ve done in this tournament. Other than that, I don”t know how you can approach a final.”
Jayawardena has been around in international cricket for 15 years now, so it was natural that he was asked if this was the best he had seen the West Indies play. “They”ve played better in patches, they won a Champions Trophy in 2004 in England. They came to the semi-finals and we beat them in England in 2009 in the World T20,” pointed out Jayawardena. “You”ve got to admire them, they”ve got some quality players. Like any other team, they have strengths and weaknesses and they play to that. They”ve controlled those better, so deservingly the two best teams so far are in the final. We are the two in-form teams and have played some good cricket.”
The West Indies possesses a good spin attack in Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree with Marlon Samuels chipping in, while Sri Lanka will most probably pick two out of Ajantha Mendis, a certainty, and Rangana Herath and Akila Dananjaya. “Both teams have good spinners, the names matter but it’s about delivering on the day,” said Jayawardena. “We are quite confident with the bowlers we have got and what they have done so far in the tournament. The surfaces have been pretty similar in the last 10 days or so, and I don”t see it being that different.”
The West Indies showed against Australia that no total was beyond it after putting up the highest total of the tournament so far. “I think they had a ball with the bat last night,” said Jayawardena with a smile. “It just one of those days when everything was hitting the middle of the bat and the Aussies struggled. But it”s on how you perform on the day, how you execute a game plan that matters and we need to react to those situations. It”s a great challenge to have as a cricketer, especially in a World Cup final.”