Lanka’s big question: How to stop the unstoppable Gayle?
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A day before the final between hosts Sri Lanka and favourites West Indies, there should have ideally have been plenty of dressing room talking points. But, rather anti-climactically, it was a former South African wicketkeeper, Dave Richardson, who made all the news. Richardson, the new ICC CEO, was critical in his assessment of the R Premadasa pitch used for the semi-finals, specifically the dry one that played its role in kicking Pakistan out of the tournament.
Pakistan struggled to chase a measly 139 against Lanka, while in the second match the same stadium produced a featherbed, with the Australians finding it extremely hard to match West Indies' 206. So to bring about some sanity to the situation, the burly figure of Andy Atkinson, ICC's go-to pitch doctor, was seen minutely scrutinising the playing area on Saturday — with his presence kicking off a further string of talking points — that regarding the soil, moisture and grass content on this remedied wicket.
But all that seems almost irrelevant for a West Indies match, considering the only factor that really affects the state of play is Chris Gayle's mighty wooden blade.
At about the same time of Saturday afternoon when Gayle rested his body through a minor side strain, the Lankans went into a huddle at the practice arena to perhaps discuss just what it would take to stop this monster of a run scorer. Mahela Jayawardene's bowlers must not just have a Plan A, but also a B and C to contain the great Jamaican. But the Lankans will be pleased to know, that as far as T20 cricket is concerned, Gayle disappoints in finals.
In the IPL final last year, Royal Challenegers Bangalore's main man Gayle was out for a duck — deceived by R Ashwin. And in the decider of the Champions League in September, Gayle was out for five, rattled by Harbhajan Singh. Going by the past, Jayawardene then will look to introduce spin early against the dashing left-hander. And spinners he has plenty of — in Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis and Akila Dananjaya.
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