ON Sunday, cricket’s unpredictability once again got the better of the many experts on the game. The West Indies victory against the much-fancied Sri Lanka gave the T-20 championship its fourth winner. The Windies join past winners India, Pakistan and England to reconfirm the openness of this short version of cricket which offers all participants a good shot at the title, consequently adding to the appeal of an already popular format. The purists may be appalled by the damage the T-20 bombardment is causing the gentleman’s game. They better brace themselves for more of the same. The longer variety, not just the Tests but also the one-day internationals, is in danger of being stroked out of the stadium.
In the Colombo final Sri Lanka badly erred by complicating the issue. They calculated too much and hit out at too few. They may have approached it in too defensive a frame of mind. As hosts, they were placed in the easier group and defeated Pakistan in the semi-finals. But in the biggest game of the championship, the Lankan intent seemed to be on getting one underneath the tall and merry West Indians rather than to surpass them. The pitch the game was played on cost Mahela Jayawardene’s team dear. Tailor-made for slower, lower-trajectory bowlers, it led to the Lankan skipper’s downfall and that of ace batsman Kumar Sangakara. It neutralised the Lankan trump card, Lasith Malinga who bowled full as per his style and went for plenty at the hands of a very talented Marlon Samuels. Caribbean skipper Darren Sammy summed up the story of how a theory can go wrong out in the field rather well. Otherwise an innocuous, reluctant bowler, he cut down on pace to great effect and stole the cup the West Indies had long been waiting for. They were worthy winners in the end.