World Twenty20: Serious business starts for Steve Finn

Fast bowler has eye on T20 poster boy Chris Gayle in Super Eight match against Windies

Kandy

The launch of the Super Eights always tingles the spine. It seems to mark the proper start of the tournament, the clashes of the big guns in the World Twenty20.

Take the match between England and West Indies tomorrow, for instance, which features a side who lost their second and final group match by 90 runs against a side who won neither of their two games. What's not to be excited about?

There is no straightforward way round this apparent nonsense. It stems from the need to have mini-groups at the start of the competition in which the sides from smaller, less skilled cricketing countries can be encouraged. The sport has to do this or perish. Make the groups bigger and there would be too many one-sided matches (and there has not been a close one yet). Add the rain, of which admittedly there is about an 85 per cent chance in Sri Lanka in late September and which disrupted both West Indies' matches, then you have the potential for a hotch-potch.

By hook or by crook, however, the Super Eights features all the teams which would be less likely to have a case brought against them under the Trades Descriptions Act. There are two groups of four, in Pallekele and Colombo, with the top two in each contesting the semi-finals.

In the first of tomorrow's matches, Sri Lanka, the hosts, play New Zealand, as ever the dark (all black) horses. England and West Indies follow them in the floodlit match at the excellent Pallekele Stadium.

The ground is 30 minutes' drive from Kandy, the country's second city. The route goes past the man-made Kandy Lake, over the bridge across the Mahaweli River and then alongside the International Buddhist Academy.

There are grassy banks on either side (which should be full in the next few days) and the bowlers' ends must have the most exotic names of all grounds: the Hunnasgiriya and the Rikillagaskada.

West Indies, of course, possess the most celebrated Twenty20 batsman who ever existed in Chris Gayle, who has eight hundreds in all. New Zealand, England's Super Eight opponents on Saturday have Brendon McCullum, the second most celebrated.

West Indies against England promises one of those contests-within-the-contest that continue to make the game so fascinating: Gayle against Steve Finn. There is no doubt that Finn will be attempting to take Gayle's wicket, not contain him, and that Gayle will not be pussyfooting about.

So far it is Finn 1, Gayle 0. At Trent Bridge in June, Gayle naturally tried to hook a bouncer. It was on him more quickly than he thought and he was caught at long leg. "He's obviously a very important player for them but by no means is he their only dangerous player," Finn said yesterday. "It's important we don't just think about Chris Gayle. For me, potentially opening the bowling against him, it's going to be up to me to set the tone against him."

Gayle's vibrant character is as alluring as his batting. When he took wickets in the abbreviated game against Ireland on Monday he celebrated with a dance that, it transpired, is known as the gangnam.

Finn said: "I've never spoken to him, I'm sure he'd be an interesting character to get to know. Even when he's out there in the middle he's got an aura about him and when you're watching him on TV he's got a massive aura about him. It's exciting to come up against people like that."

If Gayle gets going, England can probably forget it. Of the 89 T20 hundreds scored in internationals, the Indian Premier League, the Champions League and the English and Australian domestic competitions, only 14 have been in a losing cause. Still, it can happen. The only international occurrence was when Gayle scored 117 in the first World Twenty20 match in 2007 and finished on the losing side.

Apart from the array of Caribbean sluggers, England's other big test tomorrow, in view of events in Colombo last Sunday, is likely to be against Sunil Narine, the 24-year-old Trinidadian mystery off-spinner, who has been a handful so far in limited-overs cricket.

He may find Pallekele more to his liking than the grounds he encountered in England a few months ago. It should be possible to deduce in four overs if England have learnt anything.

Gayle force: Batsman's record

Chris Gayle v England Innings: 5, Balls faced: 95, Runs: 108, Dismissals: 2 Ave: 21.60, Strike rate: 129.6 Highest score: 61

Chris Gayle v Steve Finn Innings: 1, Balls faced: 6 Runs: 1, Ave: 1, Dismissals: 1, Strike rate: 16.7

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable