Live Streaming: Pakistan vs Sri Lanka T20 WC 1st semi final Live
Buoyed by its unexpected one-sided victory over Australia in its final Super Eights contest, expect a highly charged Pakistan to give favoured Sri Lanka a run for its money when they meet in the first semi-final of the World Twenty20 in Colombo on Thursday.
Both countries have had exceptional records in the shorter versions of the game with Pakistan winning the T20 trophy in 2009 over Sri Lanka, runner-up in 2007 and reaching the semis the other time around.
Sri Lanka hasn’t won any ICC silverware since 1996 when it captured the World Cup, but this current outfit is formidable in every facet of the game and stands two games away from hoisting the trophy in its own backyard before its adoring fans.
This semi will be a trial by spin and the slower Premadasa track in Colombo could favour Pakistan, who has had success here during the past three weeks. Ironically, this will be Sri Lanka’s first match in the capital as all of its earlier games were scheduled in Hambantota and Pallekelle, but the Sri Lanka batsmen know this track well.
Both teams will unleash their top-quality spinners in this contest. In the 32-run bludgeoning of Australia, Mohammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal, 20-year-old Raza Hasan and Shahid Afridi ran their opponents ragged with 18 overs of spin before the pace attack was introduced.
The one advantage that Sri Lanka has over Pakistan — apart from its vociferous fans — is that it has a world-class fast bowler in Lasith Malinga, who destroyed England with a haul of five for 31. And Nuwan Kulasekera has also played a significant role with the new ball, while Pakistan’s main striker Umar Gul hasn’t clicked yet.
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene said he isn’t too concerned with Pakistan’s spin attack.
“We have some quality guys and play spin quite well,’’ Jayawardene told BBC. “We need to make sure that we execute our plans well against them.’’
Pakistan captain Hafeez added his team would be ready to take on Ajantha Mendis, who returned the amazing figures of six for eight against Zimbabwe. “Mendis is the one who is always very good in the Twenty20 format,’’ Hafeez said. “We have played each other quite often, so we know each other as players. We will come up with a plan.’’
The key to victory will lie in the fingers of these two outstanding bowlers.
Sri Lanka also possesses three world-class batsmen in Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Dilshan Tillekaratne who have been on fire in this tournament. Pakistan will counteract with Imran Nazir, Nasir Jamshed and Umar Akmal.
Both teams have weak links and will be looking for them to bounce back. Pakistan all-rounder Afridi’s batting has been below par and he has bowled inconsistently. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, will want all-rounders Thisara Perera and Angelo Mathews to also come good with bat and ball.
The winner will come up against Friday’s semifinal between West Indies and favoured Australia in the final on Sunday.