Sri Lanka face Pakistan in the first semi final of the T20 World Cup 2012, in a battle to feature two of the subcontinent's best spinners - Ajantha Mendis and Saaed Ajmal. Both sides have been very impressive so far this tournament, with only the one defeat each in five matches and come into this game full of confidence, after dispatching two strong pre-tournament favourites in the previous match.
Sri Lanka v Pakistan
R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo
Live coverage starts at 1.30 pm BST on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports HD 1. The match will be streamed live on ESPN's official Web site.
Sri Lanka beat England in the final game of the Super Eights (Group 1) stage, knocking the defending champions out of the tournament in the process. Mahela Jayawardene would have been particularly pleased at the all-round performance of his team. The hosts were put in to bat first and responded with a good start. The captain's knock of 42 off 38 balls provided a good platform for the middle order to launch some big hits off Stuart Broad's bowlers. Angelo Mathews (28 off 19), Jeevan Mendis (18 off 13) and Thisara Perera (26 not out off 16) all needed some runs going into this game and managed to push their side to 169/6 from 20 overs. The bowlers put on an equally good performance, with Lasith Malinga finally getting his wicket-taking range right. The fiery pacer was in immense form, picking up 5/31 from his four overs... and at one stage had England struggling at 18/3.
The only concern for Jayawardene going into the game against Pakistan will be his team's inability to kill the English challenge completely. The 51-run eighth wicket partnership between Samit Patel (67) and Graeme Swann (34) threatened to take the game away from the Lankans at one stage... and with the likes of Umar Gul, Shahid Afridi and Shoab Malik batting deep for Pakistan, the hosts cannot afford to not run through the batting when they have the chance.
Pakistan, meanwhile, were absolutely wonderful with the ball in their final Super Eight game, against Australia. Yes... the Australians had already qualified, more or less, by then... but they still needed to be absolutely sure of the result and the confidence the win over a subcontinent side would have brought George Bailey's men should not be underestimated.
Mohammad Hafeez's men struggled with the bat, though, and the temperamental nature of their top order was once more in evidence. Imran Nazir had a brilliant game against Bangladesh (72) but has been unimpressive since then, while Nasir Jamshed's match-winning 55 against Australia was the highlight (along with Kamran Akmal's 32 off 26) in an otherwise uninspiring 149/6 off 20 against Australia. Of particular concern for Hafeez will be veteran Shahid Afridi's failure with the bat. The all-rounder has chipped in with some useful bowling performances but his explosive ability with the bat is sorely needed to anchor the middle order... and it is missing.
The onus of restraining what appears to be a very reliable Sri Lanka top order must fall to Hafeez and Ajmal, both of whom were brilliant against Australia - 2/22 and 3/17 respectively. Raza Hasan was also among the wickets, 2/14, and the trio are likely to be key this game as well.
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