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Sri Lanka in T20 final

Barry Wilkinson in Sri Lanka

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COLOMBO – Sri Lanka christened their homecoming to Colombo yesterday with a place in the final of the ICC World Twenty20.
It was their first match this season at the Premadasa Stadium, and after four previous matches here without victory, they put paid to that with an exciting 16-run triumph over Pakistan before another sellout crowd mostly waving Sri Lankan flags.
Firecrackers inside and outside the ground heralded the win, almost as if Sri Lanka had already won the championship. It is frightening to think what the celebrations would be like if they beat the West Indies or Australia in Sunday’s final.
Mahela Jayawardene chose to bat on a pitch with unpredictable bounce, but it proved to be a good decision as the surface deteriorated and Pakistan meekly folded when they chased 139 for four in 20 overs made by the hosts.
Sri Lanka’s inspirational skipper, who was heavily criticized in the last match for temporarily relinquishing the captaincy to Kumar Sangakkaras, guided his side with a skilful knock of 42 and along with Tilakaratne Dilshan, who made 35, added 63 in ten overs for the first wicket.
But the building of other partnerships was sadly lacking as the Pakistani’s quartet of spinners choked Sri Lanka. However, Pakistan soon got a taste of their own medicine as runs were scarce, despite skipper Mohammed Hafeez’s 42 and Umar Akmal’s unbeaten 29.
They still looked in the game at 91 for four but Rangana Herath struck twice in two balls to see them stumble to 123 for seven. Only one six was struck in the match and the pitch was criticized by both camps.
“No, not what we really expected, [the] boys weren’t happy,” Hafeez told a packed Press conference. “Sri Lanka deserved to win, but runs were difficult to score.”
His opposite number said while he was happy with the outcome, the surface surprised him.
“Our record here hasn’t been great, but I think we got the better part of the track.
“Hopefully, we [will] get better bounce on Sunday, but we are excited about this and look forward to whoever we have to play,” said Jayawardene.