Finals spot for Sri Lanka

Kumar Sangakkara celebrates after crucially stumping Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez.

COLOMBO – Hosts Sri Lanka reached the final of the World Twenty20 after defending a total of 139-4 for a 16-run win against Pakistan on a difficult turning wicket in Colombo today.

Opener Mohammad Hafeez hit 42 off 40 balls but was one of three victims for left-arm spinner Rangana Herath (3-25) as Pakistan’s run chase finished short on 123-7.

Herath’s spin partner Ajantha Mendis (2-27) and seamer Angelo Mathews (2-27) chipped in with a couple of wickets each.

Pakistan number six Umar Akmal (29 not out) did his best in the closing overs as the required-rate spiralled but received little support from the lower order.

With 27 needed off the last 12 balls, Lasith Malinga (0-19) conceded only four runs from the penultimate over and Nuwan Kulasekara (0-15) finished off the job for Sri Lanka without alarm.

Openers Mahela Jayawardene (42) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (35) had earlier put on 63 in 10.2 overs after Sri Lanka opted to bat first. They batted with much aplomb on a dusty track that provided significant assistance for the bowlers.

Wickets then fell regularly to further stall the innings before the final over, bowled by Umar Gul, disappeared for 16 runs as fifth-wicket duo Thisara Perera (11 not out) and Angelo Mathews (10 not out) got their side up to 139-4. The last over charge would prove crucial in the end.

Skipper Jayawardene was full of praise for Herath after the recalled spinner played a key role in his side’s victory.

The left-armer was preferred to youngster Akila Dananjaya and justified that decision.

“He’s been brilliant against Pakistan. He’s always tormented them through his career. We always try to play a left-arm spinner against them. It was a tough call. It’s Akila’s birthday today, and he was disappointed when I told him he’s not playing – you should see his face. But we thought that the two experienced spinners would carry us through today – and they did the job for us,” Jayawardene said. (Sky)

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