While a mouth-watering clash is on the cards between sub-continental rivals Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the first semifinal of the World Twenty20, all eyes will be on who goes out to toss with Pakistan skipper Mohammad Hafeez on Thursday.
It will be interesting to see whether the hosts try
the same trick as they did in their final Super Eights game against England when Kumar Sangakkara was nominated the official captain because Mahela Jayawardene risks a ban if the team is docked a second time for slow over-rate.
The situation will be the same for the semifinal, and given that many feel the move is against the spirit of the game, the lenses are trained on Sri Lanka.
Jayawardene didn't rule out a repeat. “We still haven't decided how to approach this game. During a game, we take different decisions and this was one like that. It was not to undermine anyone or do anything illegal.”
He added: “We didn't bring anyone from outside to lead our side. We just made a tactical move under the circumstances. The fact is if we fall another one over short, I will miss a match.”
Asked if the International Cricket Council had sought an explanation, he said: “I haven't been approached by anyone. I can't stop people thinking whether it was in the right spirit or stuff. There was no malice on our part.”
The semifinal will be a battle between the world’s best spinners. Both teams also have batsmen who play spin well. It will be a treat to watch Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi take on the likes of Jayawardene and Sangakkara. For Sri Lanka, the unorthodox Ajantha Mendis and Akila Dhananjaya will hold the key.
Pakistan will also have to factor in the home support Sri Lanka will enjoy. But Hafeez is undaunted. “We have not been playing at our home grounds and we are quite used to it. We get crowd support in some places, sometimes we don't. I wish the crowd supports the team which plays better.”
However, the green brigade will seek comfort in the fact that Sri Lanka have never won a Twenty20 at the Premadasa. They have been almost unbeatable in the other formats at the venue but have lost all four T20s.
The Sri Lanka captain shrugged it off: “Some of those T20s we tried new players and new combinations. Right now, we don't have to cast our minds back to so far back.”
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