Sri Lanka will clash with Pakistan, at Colombo’s Premadasa Stadium, on Thursday, October 4, for a place in the final of the T20 World Cup. The game will give the hosts a chance to avenge their loss to Pakistan in the 2009 final and they will bank on their home advantage to accomplish that against a confident Pakistani side.
Pakistan have good reason to be gung-ho ahead of the match, having beaten title favourites Australia rather convincingly. They were helped to a large extent by Australia’s decision to put Pakistan in, after winning the toss. Had Australia batted first, Pakistan’s immature young batsmen might have struggled to chase a similar low target, on a wearing wicket.
Pakistan can take several positives from that game into the semi-final clash, the first being Jamshed’s return to form with the bat. Imran Nazir is always a threat and if he could get his side to a good start that would be more than half the job done. In batsmen like Malik and the Akmal brothers, Pakistan have a bankable middle-order but there’s a clear case for pushing Umar Gul up the batting order at the cost of Afridi.
Pakistan’s bowling has been very strong in this tournament; their host of spinners have reveled in the spin-friendly conditions. Having said that, Hafeez would do well to reconsider his bowling options against Sri Lanka whose batsmen are strong against spin bowling. It would make sense to include an additional seamer, Sohail Tanvir. Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal and Shoaib Malik are all certainties in the team for this crucial game and Raza Hasan ppears to be the only person who can be dropped to accommodate a paceman. But Hafeez would understandably be reluctant to drop Raza who did so well against Australia. Afridi’s poor form with the ball could cause Hafeez to ponder though I don’t think the Pakistan skipper would ever get round to dropping the charismatic player who has served his side so well in T20 internationals.
Sri Lanka’s batting is far superior to Pakistan’s — at least on paper – with the likes of Dilshan, Jayawardene and Sangakkara playing in their backyard. But Pakistan should seek to neutralise that advantage having played more matches recently on the Premadasa surface than the Lankans whose matches in the tournament have been at Kandy and Hambantota.
Ajantha Mendis’s return to form with the ball has been the best news the tournament has served up for Sri Lanka who will continue to look to Malinga to spearhead the attack. Mathews has been disappointing with the ball as has Perera but both players might need to come to the party on Thursday, if Sri Lanka are to enter the final.
Prediction: Sri Lanka will make their home advantage count against the talented Pakistan bowling attack.
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.