Colombo: Sri Lanka entered their fourth final in an ICC tournament in the last five years as they defeated Pakistan by 16 runs in the semi-final of the World T20 on Thursday.
Although Sri Lanka have found the coveted titles elusive since their triumph in the World Cup in 1996, captain Mahela Jayawardene felt proud of his team’s accomplishments.
The following are excerpts
Mahela Jayawardene: A place in the final means a lot for us… We have worked really hard and I’m happy to see that our hard work is rewarded… It feels nice to qualify for the final, I’m proud of the boys. I think we are peaking at the right time. Honestly, there wasn’t any pressure on us… We gave our 100 per cent and I’m happy that we won the match in the end.
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It was a tough call… Akila Dananjaya performed well for us in the tournament and it was difficult to keep him out… That also, on his birthday… But we knew that Pakistan batsmen don’t feel comfortable against left-arm spin. There are plenty of right-handed batsmen in the Pakistan line-up. So, we needed to get the ball away from them and so played Rangana Herath.
We haven’t played on this wicket for the last couple of weeks. We weren’t sure how the wicket was going to behave. We needed to make sure that we assess the conditions correctly. I think we did. We kept wickets in hand so that we could accelerate towards the death. But Pakistan bowled really well to restrict our total.
At the beginning of the match, we felt that 140 was a par score, not a winning score. It was a challenge. Having looked at the other matches, we felt that the guys were struggling to get there unless you get a good start. We felt we were short by probably 15-20 runs. We needed to back our ability. The only way we could have challenged them was by picking up wickets, which we did well. On a slow track, you try and bowl straight and the guys did that obviously. We made mistakes in the field but it didn't cost us. The first six overs were crucial for us. We varied the pace and made them take risks. Then the spinners came and did the job for us.
Mohammed Hafeez: I’m really happy with the effort of the boys… We played positive cricket right throughout the tournament. Every player gave their 100 per cent. Raza Hasan and Nasir Jamshed are the new faces of Pakistan cricket. They have really performed well.
We are really happy with the pitch conditions… We were prepared to play on any kind of pitches. At the end of the day, whichever team play well, they will win the match. We started the chase well… Unfortunately, the middle-order collapsed. Still, I think it was a good game of cricket. Both the teams fought hard and I think they deserved to win. I thank the fans who came here to support us. We really wanted to do something for them. Unfortunately...