A host of possibilities

During the course of this tournament Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene has often faced the question of why the team had failed to win any major silverware over the past decade-and-a-half though they had reached the finals of three ICC events in recent years.

On Sunday, Jayawardene will have a chance to correct that record after he led Sri Lanka to a 16-run win over Pakistan in the first semifinal of the World T20 at the Premadasa Stadium.

And Jayawardene had a big role to play in this win, perhaps even before the first ball was bowled. On a slow and turning wicket, his selection of Rangana Herath, the experienced left-arm orthodox spinner, over the unorthodox off-spinner Akila Dhananjaya proved to be a master-stroke. Herath, picked up three wickets for just 25 runs, including two in successive balls of the 16th over, to derail the Pakistan chase on a wicket which made free stroke play a task fraught with danger.

It was in these very conditions that Mahela Jayawardene played out a masterclass during his 42 off 36 balls - the joint highest score of the match.

It was equalled only by his counterpart Mohammad Hafeez, who promised to make a match of it before Herath out-foxed him with flight and Kumar Sangakkara effected the stumping in a flash.

But Sri Lanka had handed Pakistan and its captain a lifeline when Lasith Malinga dropped a sitter after Hafeez miscued high in the air off medium-pacer Angelo Mathews.

Second chance

The second life had an immediate effect on the way Hafeez batted. Till he was dropped Hafeez had made 24 off 28 but he scored 16 off the next seven balls and Jayawardene was left to wonder how much costlier the missed chance would prove to be.

... contd.

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