The hosts Sri Lanka booked their place in the semi-finals of the T20 Cricket World Cup after a comfortable win over England in the last of their Super Eight matches.
Mahela Jayawardene’s men were second favourites to lift the trophy prior to the start of the tournament and have looked impressive throughout the competition as they now face Pakistan (2pm BST, Thursday, Oct 4) for the right to progress to Sunday’s final.
Mohammad Hafeez’s side are the only team to defeat a powerful Australian line-up and that suggests that Pakistan can beat anybody on their day. However, they can also turn in an abject performance as they proved when losing to India by eight weeks in an earlier super eight match.
The Sri Lankans may not have a 100% record going into this match but their only defeat was in a seven over thrash at the hands of South Africa. It’s not always wise to take too much into account in a game that has been shortened by such an extent but it is worth paying attention to the hosts’ record in the Super Eights.
When it really mattered, Jaywardene and his men won all three of their games in the second phase of the competition and have been the most consistent side throughout this tournament. They should be favourites ahead of this match and it’s hard to see any outcome other than a Sri Lankan win at present.
Most experts will point to the ‘big three’ in the batting line up as key players for Sri Lanka in this match. Jaywardene, along with Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara are indeed crucial to their side’s success but as the middle order proved against England, this team doesn’t rely on just three players for its runs.
Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis and Thisara Perrera proved that there is depth and dismissing the top order cheaply is no guarantee of success. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s bowling attack contains Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis – two of the best exponents of economical, wicket-taking bowling in one day cricket and it all amounts to a powerful line-up.
One thing in Pakistan’s favour is the widely accepted theory that they possess the most individually talented side at this World cCup. If one batsman or bowler fails, others will step up and take responsibility. In fact, when the top order struggled to chase down a modest target of 133 against South Africa, it was the belligerent hitting of bowler Umar Gul that got Hafeez’s men over the line.
In Saeed Ajmal, Pakistan also possess the most accurate and effective spinner in T20 cricket but can they play as a team when the pressure is on in such a crucial game as this?
Sri Lanka v Pakistan Betting Tips
Overall, Sri Lanka look to have a more reliable line-up but most importantly, they are consistent. Pakistan may arguably have more individual talent in their ranks but the unpredictable nature of their cricket in this World Cup should result in a win for the hosts in this first semi.