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Mercurial Pak face stern Lanka test

Mercurial Pak face stern Lanka test
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Their confidence on a high after the big win over Australia, a supremely talented Pakistan will come out all guns blazing against hosts Sri Lanka in the first semi-final of the ICC World Twenty20 on Thursday.

It will be a battle of attrition between the two sides who had met in the final of the 2009 edition of the tournament in England where Pakistan emerged victorious. The scene is entirely different this time around as Mohammed Hafeez and his boys will be facing a formidable Sri Lankan outfit in their own backyard.

What will be the most interesting thing to see is battle between the top quality spin departments of both sides. The most intriguing of the battles will be between two mystery spinners, Ajantha Mendis and Saeed Ajmal.

While Mendis has roared back to form during this edition of World T20 having taken nine wickets in five games which also include an astonishing six for eight against Zimbabwe, Ajmal has been a consistent performer for Pakistan in the past few years. However, Pakistan, which has the likes of Hafeez, Imran Nazir, Nasir Jamshed and the Akmal brothers, are better players of spin bowling. And it will be interesting to watch as to what tricks can Mendis pull out of his bag on a slow R Premadasa track that has been assisting spinners. Pakistan, on the otherhand, will be expecting the trio of Ajmal, Hafeez and young left-arm spinner Raza Hassan to ask difficult questions to Sri Lankan top order that has three world class batsmen in Tillekaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.

Dishan, Jayawardene and Sangakkara all have been among runs and know the Premadasa track like the back of their hand. The only advantage that Pakistan will have over Sri Lanka is the number of matches that they have played at this venue.

Having played three matches and won two, Hafeez and his men have an idea of what to expect from the Premadasa surface. The Lankans, on the other hand, have played all their matches at Hambantota and Pallekele, where the seamers got more help due to the conditions. On the slow Premadasa track, one would expect Lasith Malinga to bowl blockhole deliveries more often as length balls are likely to get punished.
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