CRICKET-T20-PREVIEW:Preview: Sri Lanka need to counter Gayle power to win final
COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka, beaten in each of their last three World Cup one-day finals, need to counter the muscular power of Chris Gayle and his big-hitting West Indies' team mates if they are to win Sunday's world Twenty20 final.
Gayle struck six sixes during his 75 not out in West Indies' semi-final demolition of Australia on Friday while his partners hit a further eight in a total of 205 for four.
Explosive strength, as Sri Lanka have demonstrated throughout a consistently entertaining tournament, is only one element in the shortest form of the game.
But the ability of Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard to consistently clear the boundary even with mishits can, as it did against Australia, put West Indies out of sight.
Although Gayle, who intelligently tailors his approach to the pitch and to individual bowlers, is the most dangerous one-day batsman in the world, Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene will concentrate on the West Indies' team as a unit and not on individuals.
"He is just another player in a very good West Indies team," Jayawardene told reporters on Saturday. "We never went after individual players. That's why we controlled things the way we can control."
Jayawardene, who will open the batting with Tillakaratne Dilshan, played in each of Sri Lanka's two World Cup 50 overs finals losses in 2007 and 2011 and the T20 final loss to Pakistan in 2009.
"We were not good enough to win those finals but we believe that we have the capacity to win this one," he said. "We played good cricket to get to this place and we are looking forward to an exciting final tomorrow."
This time Sri Lanka will have home advantage at the Premadasa stadium before their ebullient fans plus the knowledge that they have players to cope with all conditions and opponents.
In common with the best T20 sides, Sri Lanka play their leading batsmen at the top of the order with the left-handed Kumar Sangakkara coming in at number three. They and their team mates will not have the problems other teams have found with the West Indies' spinners Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine.
Lasith Malinga remains one of the most dangerous bowlers in limited overs cricket and the burly left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, preferred to the unorthodox teenage spinner Akila Dananjaya, took three cheap wickets in the semi-final against Pakistan.
West Indies will hope, probably in vain, for a pitch on which they can play their strokes in order to post the sort of total they managed against Australia.
The West Indians were the original kings of one-day international cricket but they have not won a global title since the 2004 Champions Trophy.
"It would be massive," captain Darren Sammy said on Saturday. "It's been over a decade and the fans are craving for bigger success. That is the goal we left the Caribbean with.
"When we do well people in the Caribbean are very happy, work stops for a few hours back home. It would mean everything to us as players, as coaching staff. It would give us a big boost."
(Writing by John Mehaffey; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)