Spin in spotlight for first T20 semi
Sri Lanka and Pakistan are set to serve up a trial by spin for one another in Thursday's first semi-final at the ICC World Twenty20.
- Related Content
Pakistan booked their place at the Premadasa Stadium with a Super Eight win over Australia at the same venue on Tuesday, in a match dominated by 18 overs from their slow bowlers.
Sri Lanka have the personnel to employ similar tactics too, on a pitch likely to reward them.
Captains Mahela Jayawardene and Mohammad Hafeez did nothing at their preview press conferences to dispel the notion that there will be little pace or seam in evidence.
"We have some quality spinners, and we play spin quite well as well," said Sri Lanka opener Jayawardene.
"It looks a fresh wicket, the one where the first-round games were played.
"Depending on how the wicket behaves, we need to take a few tactical changes.
"We have to plan accordingly."
While Sri Lanka can choose between Ajantha and Jeevan Mendis, Akila Dananjaya, Rangana Herath - and opener Tillekeratne Dilshan as a part-time option - Pakistan are even more blessed with possibilities.
Hafeez said: "It's because of our spinners that we are doing a great job.
"Sri Lanka also plays spin well. But whatever conditions we have seen here, it suits the spinners."
The hosts will doubtless respect Pakistan's spin threat, but have another factor to harness - that of expectation from a capacity and partisan crowd.
Sri Lanka are perennial semi-finalists, or finalists, in International Cricket Council tournaments - but have not won one since their shock first success at the 1996 World Cup.
"Yes, we haven't won any of those - and it's a bit of a disappointment," said Jayawardene.
"But we have to be in those big tournaments, and if we keep getting there we will win.
"Still we are two games away from getting to that title.
"We are extremely proud to be a part of a group that has been consistent throughout the tournament."
Jayawardene knows the opposition is full of dangerous players - not least all-rounder Shahid Afridi, yet to fire with the bat here but always a menace with his attacking leg-breaks.
"Shahid is a big-game player, a good all-round cricketer who does well with both bat and ball," he said.
"It's not just Shahid - they are a dangerous unit and they have some quality players.
"But we have some match-winners and quality players as well. We need them to turn up and perform."