We’ll be honest. Sri Lanka were steady-for-one when we got in the shower. We thought we’d timed it well. We hadn’t.
The World Twenty20 final was an odd one. Sri Lankan run-scoring was stymied and they appeared to be waiting for a particular bowler to hit. He never turned up, so Kumar Sangakkara opted to have a go at Sam One, Samuel Badree. When that failed, Sri Lanka suddenly found that they had to have a go at everyone. That failed too.
Compare that to the West Indies’ innings. They reached the frankly outrageous score of 32-2 after 10 overs, at which point Dwayne Bravo hit a six. “Oh yeah, sixes,” said Sam Two, Marlon Samuels, before wading into Lasith Malinga as if he were a particularly inviting jacuzzi.
This was where the match was won. Sri Lanka ran out of bowlers to target and imploded. West Indies also ran out of bowlers to target but somehow eviscerated the man widely considered to be the finest Twenty20 fast bowler around.
Malinga’s second over featured three sixes and went for 21 runs. In all, he conceded 54 off four overs, including 39 off the 11 balls he delivered to Marlon Samuels. Maybe the Jamaican has his bowling machine set at the wrong height or something.
It’s almost impossible to impress people as a batsman these days. The term ‘Twenty20 specialist’ is undoubtedly pejorative, but there’s also a gap on your CV if you’ve only had Test success. It appears that the second coming of Marlon Samuels transcends formats. We already liked him, but cross-format success really is to be admired.
We’ve plenty of admiration for Sam Three, as well – Darren Sammy. He’s the happiest man alive when he loses, so now that he’s captain of a World Twenty20 winning side we should probably find some way of tapping him to extract the joy. He can spare some. He can spare plenty.
It’s nice to see bowlers being decisive in a Twenty20 match. Far too often they might as well just glue different mugshots onto a bowling machine and use that instead.
In the Champions League final, Mumbai successfully defended 139. For a large proportion of the match, the commentators were talking up Chris Gayle and how amazing a Twenty20 batsman he is. Gayle is amazing, but he specialises in hitting sixes slightly more frequently and slightly more reliably than other six-hitting batsmen. It might seem like he’s the perfect Twenty20 player because of that, but even the sport’s ball-whoppiest format presents different challenges from time to time.
Gayle was actually dismissed by Harbhajan Singh, who finished with the best figures (3-20), but it was Lasith Malinga who stood out, not least because he’d also seemed like a monumental stumbling block for Somerset in the semi final.
In that match, the Zoidermen had needed 29 runs from 18 balls, 12 of which were to be bowled by Malinga. Based on how he was bowling, they basically concluded that they needed to score 14 off his two overs and 15 off the other, no matter who bowled it. Some have been at pains to stress the importance of James Franklin’s performance, but we’d give half the credit for that over to the Malinga-enforced run recalculation.