Colombo: Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan by 16 runs to reach the final of the World Twenty20 tournament here Sunday.
Skipper Mahela Jayawardene (42) steered Sri Lanka to a competitive 139 for four on a difficult surface and then the bowlers came up with a brilliant effort to limit Pakistan to 123 for seven in the first semi-final here.
The inclusion of left-arm spinner Rangana Herath (3/25) in the playing eleven worked wonderfully for the hosts with other significant contributions coming from speedsters Lasith Malinga (0/19) and Angelo Matthews (2/27).
Sri Lanka have now made their second World T20 final after the 2009 edition and now await the winners of the second semi-final between Australia and West Indies Friday. They had finished runners-up to Pakistan at Lord’s three years ago.
Pakistan were put under severe pressure during their chase by a versatile Sri Lankan bowling attack, reducing them to 64 for four in 11 overs. Matthews enjoyed a dream opening over, removing the in-form Nasir Jamshed (4) and Kamra Akmal (1) with his medium-pace.
But it was Herath who turned the match in favour of the Sri Lankans. He bowled Shoaib Malik (6) with a beauty and followed up with the timely scalp of opposition leader Mohammad Hazeef (42) and Shahid Afridi (0), leaving Pakistan at 91 for six in 14 overs.
Pakistan managed to stay in the game till the end of the 18th over after which they needed 27 off the last 12 balls. But Malinga sealed it for Sri Lanka, giving away just fours runs in the penultimate over.
Earlier, Pakistan got the better of Sri Lankan batsmen at the start and the end of the innings.
While Jayawardene made batting look easy amid testing conditions, the others including the dangerous Tillakaratne Dilshan (35) found it tough to push the scoring rate.
Jayawardene, through some elegant strokes, gave the innings a move after the first six overs fetched 34 runs.
Kumar Sangakkara (18 off 11) took the role of the aggressor after the skipper’s departure as Dilshan continued collecting singles. The southpaw looked in good touch before being caught at long-on in the 13th over.
The runs dried up for Sri Lanka from there on. From 100 for two by the 15th over, they could only add 23 in the next four before Mathews and Perera smashed Umar Gul for 16 runs off the final six balls.
Interestingly, not a single six was hit during the innings.