World Twenty20: Rangana Herath leaves Pakistan hopes in tailspin

Sri Lanka 139-4 Pakistan 123-7 (Sri Lanka win by 16 runs)

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The Independent Online

The World Twenty20 received the result it needed and deserved last night. Sri Lanka, the host nation, defeated Pakistan by 16 runs.

It was hardly a pristine performance with nerves taking hold as they defended a to tal of 139 for 4. But that applied to Pakistan too and the loss of too many wickets simply left them with too much to do.

All tournaments benefit from a decent run by the hosts, of course, but Sri Lanka have also looked the part in the last fortnight. Their only loss was to South Africa in a group match so abbreviated (seven overs a side) that blinking was ill advised.

The pitch played an important part in their progress to the final on Sunday, where they will play Australia or West Indies. It was weary, taking spin and difficult to score off.

Sri Lanka might still have made more than they did after an assured start. Mahela Jayawardene, their captain, is in supreme form and by playing the ball late and delicately he made 42 off 36 balls with seven fours.

When he made his first mistake, a paddle shot straight to short fine leg, Kumar Sangakkara, his deputy, also played like a man with a mission. But after his dismissal the innings stultified. Only a last over which yielded 16 runs from the otherwise impeccable Umar Gul could make them reasonably satisfied.

It was anybody's game at that point and Pakistan were gifted some runs at the start with wides and fielding lapses. Spin, however, lurked and both Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath profited.

While Pakistan's captain, Mohammad Hafeez , remained, a close match was in prospect. But having survived two chances he charged down the pitch to Herath, who finished with 3 for 25, and Sangakkara, who had an age to take off the bails, did not waste a millisecond. The rest was huffing and puffing as they were left needing 23 off the final over.

Results & fixtures

Yesterday (Colombo): Sri Lanka 139-4 [Jayawardene 42] bt Pakistan 123-7 [Hafeez 42; Herath 3-25] by 16 runs.

Today (Colombo): Australia v West Indies (2.30pm BST)

Final (Sunday, 2.30pm, Colombo): Sri Lanka v Australia/West Indies