Spin set to hold the key at the Premadasa
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The dry nature of the wicket at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo should subscribe to spin and the two teams that will play the first semifinal on this surface on Thursday — Sri Lanka and Pakistan — are best-placed to utilise these conditions.
For the hosts, who have adapted well to the bounce at Hambantota and the seamer-friendly conditions at Pallekelle, Colombo will provide conditions they will relish. In Ajantha Mendis and Akila Dananjaya, they have spinners who own a bagful of tricks while Thilakaratne Dilshan can be useful with his off-spin.
However, Pakistan is a side that not only has a set of spinners who are as effective as any in world cricket but also have batsmen that play slow bowling well. And the same can be said of the Sri Lankan top-order.
In such a scenario the battle between these two sub-continental giants is likely to be decided by the spinners. Pakistan bowled 18 overs of spin against Australia, while versus South Africa this figure was 15. Both teams in the aforementioned matches were restricted to below 140.
Off-spinners Saeed Ajmal and skipper Mohammad Hafeez have picked up 12 wickets between themselves, the former accounting for eight. Leg-spinner Shahid Afridi hasn't done as well as he usually does and has an economy rate over seven but has a tendency to turn it on in the big games.
Batsmen have found it difficult to score runs off young medium-pacer Raza Hasan, whose economy rate in the tournament stands at just 4.36 runs.
However, this attack will be up against Jayawardene and Dilshan at the top — a combination that has made the most of the Powerplay overs at the top.
With the likes of Kumar Sangakkara and a set of handy all-rounders to follow, the Sri Lankan batting line-up will test the Pakistan bowlers.
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