SL, Pakistan emerge from Lahore horror

Nov 30, -0001
LONDON: Sri Lanka and Pakistan have emerged triumphant from the horror of Lahore last March when gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus to stake a place in Sunday's Twenty20 World Cup final at Lord's (1400GMT).

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara, one of six players wounded in the attack, told reporters on Friday after his team's semi-final win over West Indies the assault had reminded his team of their own mortality.

"I think it is a fitting reward for the courage of the team in the way they have played in this tournament, all the players have got through," he said." His Pakistan counterpart Younus Khan, whose team did not play a single test last year because of the uncertainty at home, sounded a similar note after beating South Africa on Thursday.

"We are suffering from everything in Pakistan and everyone knows about all the fighting, a lot of fighting. If we can lift the Cup, it will provide great cheer for the people," Younus said.


The teams took strikingly different paths to Sunday's final.

Sri Lanka have set the pace throughout with both bat and ball and have not lost a match.

Pakistan, desperately short of practice, were outplayed by England in their opening match but rallied remarkably to thrash New Zealand and then upset a confident, well-drilled South African team in Thursday's semi-final.

Both sides have exhibited the imagination and technical expertise which have made the tournament so memorable with the latest form of the game evolving and changing daily before noisy sell-out crowds at Lord's, the Oval and Trent Bridge.

Sri Lanka will start favourites by virtue of their consistency and strength in depth.

Opener Tillakaratne Dilshan, the tournament's top scorer, has played a stream of delightful strokes around the wicket, including the now renowned scoop shot which sends the ball flying over his head to the boundary.

In the field, captain Sangakkara has the luxury of an elite bowling trio, who both attack and contain, in Lasith Malinga (fast) and Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis (spin).

Pakistan pace bowler Umar Gul destroyed New Zealand with the first five-wicket haul in Twenty20 cricket, reverse-swinging the ball wickedly in the second half of the innings.

Pakistan then beat South Africa in the semi-finals through a devastating all-round performance from Shahid Afridi, who returned to his dynamic best with the bat before showing again just how potent his quick leg-spin can be.

"Afridi is a guy who can take the game away from you in a few overs," said Sangakkara. "But we can't really get caught up in just one player." AGENCIES




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