Hosts beat Pakistan to reach final

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Hosts Sri Lanka prompted delirious scenes at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Thursday, holding their nerve to beat Pakistan by 16 runs to advance to the final of the World Twenty20, where they will face either Australia or the West Indies.

Hosts Sri Lanka prompted delirious scenes at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Thursday, holding their nerve to beat Pakistan by 16 runs to advance to the final of the World Twenty20, where they will face either Australia or the West Indies.

Pakistan needed a score of 140 to win the match after restricting the Lankans to 139 for four, but double strikes by Angelo Mathews and Rangana Herath made sure the chase failed to flow, with only Mohammad Hafeez able to add a decent score.

Sri Lanka's innings was not a scintillating performance, with Mahela Jayawardene top-scoring with 42 and Tillakaratne Dilshan adding a ponderous 35, but the wicket was a dust bowl at this stage of the tournament and they did well in the end.

Sri Lanka got a solid base built in the first 10 overs of their knock, with Jayawardene and Dilshan showing their experience as they navigated the Pakistan spinners on the dusty, turning wicket, ending the 10 overs on 62 for none.

Jayawardene was the dominant partner, scoring 42 of those runs off 36 balls, but just as he looked to accelerate and lift some of the pressure put on him by Dilshan, he found himself caught by Raza Hasan while trying to play the scoop shot yet again.

Kumar Sangakkara then came to the middle and immediately set about smacking the ball about, and he made 18 runs off 11 balls, including three boundaries. But his knock came to an end with the score on 84, caught by Shoaib Malik off Hafeez.

Sri Lanka were handed a slice of fortune in the 18th over, when Jeevan Mendis, who was batting much quicker than Dilshan, was trapped LBW by Umar Gul, but replays showed the bowler had overstepped and Mendis was saved.

Pakistan got Dilshan's wicket two balls later though, when Gul again sent it full and straight, hitting the veteran plumb in front and this time there was no question about the validity and he had to go for 35 off 43 balls.

Saeed Ajmal then struck in the next over, sending a wider one down as Mendis tried to step down the track, but he missed it and Kamran Akmal had no trouble with the stumping. This left the hosts on 118 for four with 11 balls to go. The final over pushed the score to a defendable target, with Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera bagging 16 runs off it.

Pakistan's reply got off to a slow start under the lights, the pressure telling as they could only go at five runs to the over during the Powerplay. They reached the six-over mark having scored 31 for the loss of one.

Imran Nazir, who had hit some neat shots until that point, was first to fall, off the final ball of that over, finding his bails gently removed by Ajantha Mendis as the ball fizzed off the face of his bat and onto the stumps.

Pakistan were reduced to 57 for three in the 10th over, when Mathews removed Nasir Jamshed for four and Kamran Akmal for one run, which brought Shoaib Malik in to join his skipper as they needed another 83 runs in the remaining 10.2 overs.

Malik lasted only seven balls though as Pakistan were reduced to 64 for four, Herath using the pitch to full advantage as he spun the ball onto the top of off stump.

Pakistan were handed a moment of relief in the 12th over when Lasith Malinga dropped a sitter off Hafeez on the boundary, the ball popping out of the fast bowler's hands to give the opener a lifeline with his score on 30.

Pakistan started the feel the pressure even further when their skipper was dismissed with the score on 91, Hafeez stumped by Rangana Herath for 40. The next ball saw them six down as Shahid Afridi was bowled for a duck, leaving Herath on a hat-trick. Sohail Tanvir managed to block out the decisive delivery.

Tanvir didn't last long though and was stumped by Sangakkara off Ajantha, who moved to the top of the wicket-takers list with that scalp. Umar Akmal's 29 not out was in vain as the final over went for a mere six runs when 23 were required.

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis

Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Nazir, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Saeed Ajmal, Raza Hasan

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