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Spinners star as Sri Lanka edge Pakistan to make final

Last updated on: October 5, 2012 09:56 IST

Spinners star as Sri Lanka edge Pakistan to make final

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Mahela Jayawardene and his lion-hearted spinners powered Sri Lanka to their second World Twenty20 final following the team's 16-run win over 2009 champions Pakistan in the first semi-final on Thursday.

Opting to bat first, Jayawardene (42) added 63 runs with Tillakaratne Dilshan (35) but Sri Lanka could not capitalise on the strong start on a sluggish track and posted 139 for four wickets.

Jayawardene then returned to marshal his bowlers, who restricted Pakistan to 123 for seven to earn a place in Sunday's final against either Australia or West Indies.

"It means a great deal, great support from the fans," said the Sri Lanka captain, denying the team was under pressure from the fans to win their first World Twenty20 title.



Image: Sri Lanka players celebrates after defeating Pakistan on Thursday
Photographs: Philip Brown/Reuters

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'The crowd is like our 12th man'

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"I think like everyone said it's not pressure for us. It's like our 12th man, pretty much cheering us up. It's been great to perform like this in front of a great crowd."

Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath was one of the key performers, justifying his selection ahead of Akila Dananjaya by claiming three for 25 while Ajantha Mendis (2-27) and Angelo Mathews (2-27) shared four wickets between them.

"It was a tough call to keep out birthday boy Akila Dananjaya but we felt with Pakistan, they have a history against left-arm spin," Jayawardene said.


Image: Sri Lankan fans celebrate after their team defeated Pakistan on Thursday
Photographs: Philip Brown/Reuters

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Hafeez-Nazir gave Pakistan a decent start

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Captain Mohammad Hafeez (42) top-scored for Pakistan while Umar Akmal remained not out on 29 in a rematch of the 2009 final.

Pakistan responded well with Hafeez and Imran Nazir (20) adding 31 off the first six overs but once Mendis separated them by removing Nazir, their chase never got the momentum again.

Angelo Mathews reduced Pakistan to 57 for three by removing Nasir Jamshed and Kamran Akmal in the same over before left-arm spinner Herath wrecked them.

Playing Herath ahead of teenager spinner Akila Dananjaya proved a master stroke as the 34-year-old spinner bowled out Shoaib Malik for six and then struck a double blow.



Image: Pakistan's captain Mohammad Hafeez
Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

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Pakistan done in by Herath, Mendis

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Herath foxed Hafeez, who had stepped out to hit him, to present Kumar Sangakkara with an easy stumping and in his next delivery, bowled Shahid Afridi for a golden duck on the 16th anniversary of the batsman's fastest century that came off 36 balls.

Mendis further tightened the screws by removing Sohail Tanvir and Pakistan could score six of the 23 runs they required in the tidy last over sent down by Nuwan Kulasekara.

"We were very much into the game but unfortunately the middle order collapsed and we couldn't do well as far as the partnerships were concerned," Hafeez rued.

"I think it was a good game of cricket where both teams really fought well and at the end of the day the better team won."

Image: Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews appeals to dismiss Pakistan's Nasir Jamshed (right) on Wednesday
Photographs: Philip Brown/Reuters

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'Afridi is really in a bad form at the moment'

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Shahid Afridi's insipid performance has been a letdown for Pakistan in the World Twenty20 but captain Hafeez sprang to the all-rounder's support saying he gave his best in the tournament.

The former captain played a poor shot to be bowled out on the first delivery he faced against Rangana Herath with Pakistan struggling during their chase of 140 runs for a place in Sunday's final.

Afridi, who 16 years ago on the same day struck the fastest century in 50-over cricket against the same opponents, took the prized wicket of Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene on Thursday but has been cold with both bat and ball in the tournament.

"He is a match winner, there is no doubt about his abilities. But I think... he is really in a bad form at the moment," Hafeez said when asked about the 32-year-old all-rounder's performance.


Image: Rangana Herath of Sri Lanka celebrates with Mahela Jayawardene after bowling Shahid Afridi
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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'I think he is trying to come out of it'

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The popular cricketer scored just 30 runs in five innings and took only four wickets with his leg-spin bowling in six matches.

"He's really worked hard in the whole tournament, but unfortunately things didn't work for him," Hafeez said.

"I can understand as a captain, as a player, when things don't work for you.

"But he is a character, he is always a hard-worker and I think he is trying to come out of it (which) is a positive sign for us as a team. So that's the reason we have given him all the chances."


Image: Pakistan fans wear a dejected look after the team's loss to Sri Lanka on Thursday
Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
Tags: Hafeez

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