And then there were four. After nearly three weeks of huge hitting, dropped catches and yet another England humiliation, the ICC World T20 has reached the semi-final stages. The tournament has proved to be highly entertaining so far. There have been upsets, pre-tournament favourites Australia crashed and burned, ludicrous batting as the Dutch obliterated the Irish bowling attack to reach the Super 10s in remarkable fashion, and also some extraordinary death bowling courtesy of Dale Steyn (more on him later). The line-up for the last four promises more great cricket in the next few days.
India – 2.77
Sri Lanka – 3.48
West Indies – 4.2
South Africa – 4.95
(All odds at Matchbook.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)
The first semi-final sees Sri Lanka taking on the West Indies. This looks to be the tighter of the two games and Sri Lanka go into the match as narrow favourites. Both sides have come through must-win final group games and both will be confident following resounding victories in those crunch matches.
This is a repeat of the 2012 final which the West Indies won and I’d back them to upset the odds and beat Sri Lanka again. West Indies showed just how good they are against Pakistan yesterday. Although they got into a bit of a hole with the bat, Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo blasted them out of it with some brutal batting. They then showed how good they are with the ball; Pakistan never got a sniff and consistently lost wickets before folding completely. In Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine, they possess the top two highest ranked bowlers in T20, with Badree particularly adept at bowling in the Powerplay overs.
Sri Lanka have threats of their own of course, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakarra are both classy and elegant batsmen and will be desperate to end their international T20 careers on a high. Rangana Herath decimated New Zealand last time out and is likely to retain his place in the side after recording figures of 5-3. Then there is their trump card in Lasith Malinga who bowls yorkers with such unerring accuracy. It should be a close game, but I think West Indies will just nick it.
The other semi-final sees South Africa taking on the heavily fancied Indians. South Africa have lived a charmed life in this tournament with several narrow wins seeing them qualify from the easier of the two groups. Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir have been their stars with the ball, while AB De Villiers showed what a devastating player he is against England, it is also impossible to forget the talents of JP Duminy and Hashim Amla either. They are very much the outsiders of the final four and with good reason: aside from Steyn and Tahir their bowling attack looks very weak.
India on the other side are a beautifully balanced side and the only team remaining with a 100% record. They have made their way through this tournament without breaking a sweat and are now very strong favourites to lift the title. In Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and M.S. Dhoni they have the firepower to take apart any bowling attack. They also have the bowlers to restrict the opposition too with Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja and Amit Mishra forming a fearsome spin trio. All evidence points to an Indian win and it’s hard to look past them for the semi-final really.
So who will win it overall? India are of course very strong and will be most people’s picks to go and win the competition now but I’m sticking with the holders to go on to retain their title. Even though India have already beat them in the group stages, the West Indies are coming into form at the right time and will take some serious stopping.
Betting Instinct Tip – West Indies to beat Sri Lanka and score the most sixes is 3.06 with GR88.com
LIAM McCONVILLE is an avid cricket fan, a hapless village cricketer and a Yorkshireman with an irrational hatred of Jade Dernbach. He rants about the game he loves at http://www.fortyballduck.blogspot.co.uk/ and @FortyBallDuck on Twitter.