The West Indies went into yesterday's semi-final against Sri Lanka aware of three major threats, those being fast bowler Lasith Malinga, and the spinning duo of Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis.
Muralitharan and Mendis have been so miserly in the middle overs for Sri Lanka throughout this tournament, and with the death bowling of Malinga, Sri Lanka back themselves to defend any total that they post.
But surely yesterday would be different to days gone by? Sri Lanka had posted 158, on a good track in their first game of the tournament at The Oval, and the West Indies have openly said how much they love playing at the South London venue throughout the course of the competition, indeed just two weeks before this semi-final clash, they had chased down 169 with the best part of five overs to spare against Australia.
Surely sensible batting and a couple of good partnerships would see the West Indies through to the final at Lords on June 21st? I went downstairs during the interval to walk around the ground and get a feel of the atmosphere when I heard a huge roar and one look at the big screen and I discovered that Xavier Marshall had yet again failed on the big stage, he was bowled for a duck by Angelo Mathews, so the West Indies were 1-1, at this stage I thought it best that I make my way back to the safe haven of the press box. As I walked through the media centre, I was greeted by numerous West Indian fans, filing out of the stands.
"This cant be happening to me," one fan moaned as I took my seat in the press box to see that Lendl Simmons had also been dismissed. I started to realise just why some of the fans in maroon were deciding to have an early night; two balls later Dwayne Bravo got an inside edge and like the other two batsmen dismissed he was bowled to leave the West Indies reeling at one for three after one over.
All the talk was about the three Ms yet no one bargained for a fourth M being the destroyer, Angelo Mathews, the right arm seamer from Colombo finished with figures of three for 16 from his four overs, but it was his first over that virtually sealed the game for Sri Lanka.
The West Indies had already had a taste of Mathew's brilliance in the group stages when the athletic fielder attempted to take a catch on the long on boundary after Sarwan smashed a ball high in the air. However, realising that he was close to the boundary, Mathews palmed the ball up in the air, jumped over the rope, and then leaped off the ground as he palmed the ball back into play and his efforts saved Sri Lanka three runs.
Mathews' performance illustrates just why Sri Lanka have been so difficult to beat and why they are fancied by many to be crowned champions on Sunday as even when the marque names don't deliver, someone else does; yesterday Mathews answered the call quite emphatically.
© Cricket World 2009