x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Jayawardene leads from the front in World T20 semi-final

The man of the match and captain steers Sri Lanka to their fourth final since 2007.

Ajantha Mendis, centre, derailed Pakistan in their run chase with two crucial blows.
Ajantha Mendis, centre, derailed Pakistan in their run chase with two crucial blows.

COLOMBO // Mahela Jayawardene turned up at the toss and then turned up with the bat to guide Sri Lanka into the World Twenty20 final in front of a full house at the R Premadasa Stadium. Sri Lanka's 16-run win over Pakistan means they will face either Australia or West Indies on Sunday.

Jayawardene had sent Kumar Sangakkara for the toss against England as the official captain, in a bid to avoid a potential ban for slow over rates from this game.

But he was there last night, first calling correctly and choosing to bat on a sluggish surface and then leading the way, a classy 42 the platform on which they scratched out 139.

Pakistan bowled well for 19 overs, but Umar Gul's last over leaked 16, the eventual margin of victory. Mohammad Hafeez battled gamely, but Angelo Mathews and Rangana Herath snuffed out the heart of their batting.

They now stand on the verge of a momentous home triumph. It will be Sri Lanka's fourth ICC final since 2007, an achievement Jayawardene was justifiably proud of.

"A fourth final is amazing because even reaching one is lucky for a player," he said.

"We're going to approach it differently to the others [which they lost] in Barbados, Lord's and Mumbai because this is at R Premadasa. We are a proud nation and come Sunday, the whole country will be backing us."

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

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