Perhaps it was always meant to be. Sri Lanka and Pakistan, the two teams who were torn apart by terrorism three months ago, will come together again at Lord's tomorrow to settle the World Twenty20.
But while Pakistan have blown hot and cold during this tournament, their opponents are into to the final with a perfect record of played six, won six.
Back in March, Kumar Sangakkara and most of his current team were lying on the floor of their coach, fearing for their lives as bullets ripped through metal when the tourists were targeted just outside Lahore's main cricket stadium. What with that and then the bloody end to their country's long-running civil war, memories from these last few weeks will stay with them for ever.
On the cricket field, though, Sri Lanka's thoughts have never wavered and, at a packed Oval last night, they put West Indies in their place with an almost ridiculously easy, 57-run victory. First, Tillakaratne Dilshan stayed slap-bang in the middle of a personal purple patch by scoring an unbeaten 96, then young fast bowler Angelo Mathews struck three times in the opening over of the reply to effectively settle the contest.
Chris Gayle, who surely erred in opting to field after winning the toss, carried his bat to finish with an undefeated 63. But wickets never stopped falling around him, none of his colleagues reached double figures and his side were routed inside 18 overs.
Dilshan, the tournament's leading scorer with 317 runs from six innings, earned the man-of-the-match award for a 57-ball masterpiece. "I've run out of superlatives to describe him," said a beaming Sangakkara. "In the last year and half he has been very responsible, very mature and come to understand just how good he is. Hopefully we can now go one more step and win the final."
Two early Dilshan specials off Jerome Taylor – a bouncer lifted over the keeper and then a ramp shot to long leg – got the right-hander going and, after that, he only looked concerned when starved of the strike.
He quickly completed a 30-ball half-century before dominating a fourth wicket stand of 50 with Chamara Silva that righted the Sri Lanka's ship after it had listed to 77 for 3.
It fell to Gayle to bowl the final over and, having started it with a wide, his only success came in denying Dilshan a century. Even so, Mathews drove a six as 18 came from it.
Gayle only made one mistake during Mathews' opening over – taking a single off the first ball. By the time he next faced, his team were three down without having added a run as Xavier Marshall, Lendl Simmons and Dwayne Bravo took turns to play on via either bat or body. The game was almost up for them there and then.
Their captain kept going, of course, but spinners Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan turned the screw to ensure Sri Lanka were heading for Lord's.Reuse content