Srilanka Qualify for Final T20 World Cup 2012.Sri Lanka team beat Pakistan team in semifinal match by 16 runs and rech in Final game for first time in T20 World Cup history. On a crumbling, turning, brute of a pitch by Twenty20 standards, Mahela Jayawardene responded with a T20-size classic. His 42 off 36, as delightful as it was delicate, proved to be the difference between the two sides in a tight semi-final. It was a bittersweet night for his opposite number: Mohammad Hafeez outmanoeuvred a rampant Kumar Sangakkara in a crucial moment in the first innings, he came back from a horribly slow start to his own innings, but fell on 42 with some way to go for Pakistan.
It was Sangakkara who returned the favour with a superb stumping off a grubber to send Hafeez back with 48 to defend in 35 balls. Hafeez, who had just opened up with an extra-cover drive, a reverse-swept four and a punch through covers, was this close to making this his own night, but it was to be Sri Lanka’s, who won their first Twenty20 international at R Premadasa Stadium, in the process successfully adjusting to a third venue in this tournament, the most for any team.
The powdery surface began to explode upon impact by the third over of the first innings. This was no place for average batsmen who stand there and swing from the hip. This would need a quality batsman. On turning tracks, they don’t come better than Jayawardene. With the ball turning square at times, he stayed low, swept and reverse-swept often to play with the spinners’ rhythm. Tillakaratne Dilshan, his opening partner, seemed to be batting on a different pitch.
The powdery surface that had begun to explode upon impact by the third over of the first innings called for quality batting in order to score at more than a run a ball. Mahela Jayawardene was equal to the task, playing the spinners delicately and delightfully, but Pakistan rid of him before he could cause irreparable damage. They got Kumar Sangakkara out early enough too. Had Sangakkara, who scored a fluent 18 off 11, played for longer, it wouldn’t have looked pretty for Pakistan. From 85 for 2 in the 13th over, Pakistan restricted the rest to an eventual 139 despite a 16-run last over, a testing total against a varied attack, but not out of reach.
Tillakaratne Dilshan, the third musketeer, didn’t mind looking ungainly, or a strike-rate of 50 for the first 20 balls of his innings, accelerated to 35 off 43, but he too fell before he could provide the decisive burst.
The three big breakthroughs were brought about by Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Gul, but the first impact on the night was created by Sohail Tanvir. Most of Pakistan fans would have worried about the worst when Tanvir’s name was announced in the XI, but he is always a good pick for a big night, considering Pakistan can afford to have one bowler have an off day.
That didn’t bring them any relief, though. Sangakkara began with a four to midwicket first ball, and later displayed a lovely chip over extra cover. Hafeez, though, outmanoeuvred him. Watching him move too much around the crease, Hafeez pulled out off a delivery. When he did ball, he bowled it wide and out of reach of the moving Sangakkara, and prised out a catch in the deep.
Now, with Dilshan looking to break free, it was down to the two big Twenty20 men, Saeed Ajmal and Gul. Ajmal had had two ordinary overs for 20 by then, and it was Gul who subdued Sri Lanka with lovely yorkers. He had a struggling Jeevan Mendis lbw but that was later ruled a no-ball. A few bowlers in this tournament have broken down after that event, but Gul came back to trap Dilshan with an even better one to reduce Sri Lanka to 117 for 3 after 17.3.
Ajmal came back well with Jeevan’s wicket in the next over, but Gul missed his yorkers by the slightest of margins in the last over. Thisara Perera and Angelo Mathews took toll of it, but Gul also seemed to suggest the ball had got wet with the due. That could end up being the decisive factor later in the night.