Dubai: Sri Lanka and West Indies started favourites to win the first round of the Twenty20 World Cup 2022 in Australia, but these Test-playing nations stumbled at the starting block and were in danger of early elimination.
Sri Lanka, who arrived in Australia after winning the Asia Cup by defeating Pakistan and India, lost to Namibia tamely in their first match, while two-time champions West Indies were beaten by a smart Scotland.
Both teams found themselves in a spot of bother midway through their second matches. After a rollicking start, Sri Lanka were pegged back by UAE leg-spinner Karthik Meiyappan, who grabbed a hat-trick to restrict them to 152 for eight in 20 overs. West Indies too struggled to post 153 for seven in 20 overs.
Both were below-par scores, but bowlers and fielders ensured their teams won the contests to stay in the hunt for Super 12 slots. Coming back from the brink is not new for these teams that have loads of experience in handling high-pressure situations.
Sri Lanka overcame a poor start to win the Asia Cup, while Carlos Brathwaite struck four consecutive sixes in the last over to give West Indies the second title in Kolkata in 2016. These are proof of their ability to overcome adversities.
The same cannot be said of Associate nations. After a bright start, they tend to fade, unable to maintain consistency. Scotland, who stunned the West Indies, lost to Ireland in the next game, and all four teams in the group ended with one point each.
The UAE lost narrowly to the Netherlands off the penultimate ball in a low-scoring thriller and lost their way under pressure against Sri Lanka. It clearly showed the lack of experience against quality opposition.
Experience is priceless. It helps teams manage a crisis and turn up the heat when dominating. Both are pressure situations that have to be handled well to craft victories.
“One thing that will make a lot of difference is that we need to play more cricket against better opposition to test ourselves. Once they get those opportunities, then they will understand themselves what professionalism is all about. The Asia Cup was here, and they look at most of the teams and how they play, but the important thing is play a lot more cricket,” Robin Singh, Director of Cricket, Emirates Cricket Board, said during the team’s preparation for the World Cup in UAE.
More games will bring more experience. The experience of playing World Cup will stand in good stead for teams like the UAE and Namibia. The Netherlands, who have won both their matches, have underlined the advantage of playing regularly in the main draw of World Cups.
Experience trumps pressure: that’s what Sri Lanka and the West Indies have shown.