Teams wary of spin threat
COLOMBO – Not surprisingly, both Sri Lanka and Pakistan have labelled their spinners as trump cards going into today’s first semi-final of the ICC World Twenty20.
The two teams, packed with great spinning arsenals, go head-to-head at the lovely Premadasa Stadium from 9:30 a.m. (Eastern Caribbean Time) on a pitch that should favour their art, while the West Indies and Australians battle it out tomorrow.
This is the fourth, straight semi-final for the 2009 champions Pakistan and according to the stats, Saeed Ajmal, Raza Hasan, Shahid Afridi and captain Mohammad Hafeez have significantly helped them once again.
While Sri Lanka will bank heavily on Ajantha Mendis, who picked up six for eight in his first match against Zimbabwe, neither side can boast of being favourites as they have been beaten already in the tournament.
“We lost one game, yes, but our spinners are doing [a] fantastic job,” said Hafeez at a packed press conference.
“Sri Lanka also play spin well. But whatever conditions we have seen here, it suits the spinners.”
Pakistan bowled 18 overs of spin during the 32-run win over Australia Tuesday night, which clinched their place in the last four.
But captain Mahela Jayawardene noted that none of the Sri Lankans were “scared” of spin, and in fact, played it better than anything else.
“We have some quality guys and play spin quite well,” said Jayawardene. “We need to make sure that we execute our plans well against them.”
With all the talk about spin, it was the pace of Mitchell Starc that stunned Pakistan against Australia, so Jayawardene was thinking that his big gun would be Lasith Malinga.
“Lasith [is] bowling really well and we will also count on him. (He) just got five-for against England and was on target,” said Jayawardene.
“We have been planning for this tournament for three months . . . . We knew the players we wanted in the squad.”