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ICC World Twenty20 Final: Pakistan vs Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka and Pakistan will hope to provide a thrilling climax to the World Twenty20 when they meet at Lord’s.

Both sides, who will be unchanged for the final, are packed with talent and it could be as close as in 2007 when India beat Pakistan in the last over.

But it will also be a reminder of the tragedy in Lahore in March when gunmen shot at Sri Lanka’s team bus.

Seven players were injured and five Pakistani policemen who were escorting the bus were killed.

Also caught up in the incident was International Cricket Council match referee Chris Broad, who has appropriately been put in charge of the final by the game’s governing body.

Among the players injured was Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara and he said of his team’s place in the final: “It’s fitting reward for the courage and the way we have played in this tournament.

“I think what Lahore really brought home to us was that we are the same as everyone else – it can happen to anyone, and it happed to us.”

Another player injured in the attack was spin bowler Ajantha Mendis, whose 12 wickets in the tournament make him the joint leading wicket-taker along with teammate Lasith Malinga and Pakistan’s Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal.

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Pakistan have been upping the gear at the right time

“He’s won us enough games in this tournament to be called a great spinner in the T20 format – he’s already a great player in every other format,” said Sangakkara.

“He’s a charm for us, the way he’s bowled in the middle overs – and even in the first six overs. Even against Pakistan (in the Super Eights), they watched him and didn’t really attack him because they know one slight mistake either way and they can get out.”

Pakistan must find a way to score off Mendis and, in the closing overs, Malinga if they are to avoid a repeat of their 19-run defeat earlier in the competition and end Sri Lanka’s unbeaten run.

But they have plenty of potential match-winners of their own, none more so than all-rounder Shahid Afridi.

He was on the losing side in the 1999 World Cup final against Australia – and again when they were beaten by India two years ago and hopes it will be third time lucky for him.

“We have to win this one,” the mercurial 29-year-old said. “I want to do it on my own if I could. This is our best chance to make up for the disappointment of the past.”

Afridi orchestrated Pakistan’s semi-final victory over South Africa by scoring 51 off 34 balls – and he has also taken 10 wickets in the tournament with his leg-spin.
Shahid Afridi hits out during Pakistan’s semi-final victory 
He paid tribute to skipper Younus Khan for keeping faith with him and said: “He told me before the game against South Africa that I should play my own game and not worry about anything.

“He also told me that I was a senior player and needed to take responsibility. I had not done well as a batsman for a long time, but I knew the team was relying on me to deliver.

“I could not let them down. I don’t want to let them down again.”

Coach Intikhab Alam believes there is a parallel to be drawn between Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup win and their progress through the World Twenty20.

“The pattern is almost the same. We were on the brink of elimination then, but fought back to make the semi-finals, then the final and then win it in Melbourne.

“Here the team has fought back after bad starts and has peaked at the right time,” he said.

Younus, meanwhile, chose to reflect on the wider context of Sunday’s match after at least 44 people were killed in continuing troubles in north-west Pakistan.

“In my whole career I have dreamed about lifting the World Cup, or something like that,” he said.

“If we win tomorrow it will be good for our future cricket and also for the Pakistani nation as well.

“It has been suffering a lot of things, especially in the north, where I am from. There are a lot of things wrong there.”

Pakistan: Younus Khan (captain), Shahzaib Hasan, Kamran Akmal (wkt), Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq, Misbah-ul-Haq, Fawad Alam, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Aamir, Ahmed Shahzad, Iftikhar Anjum, Salman Butt, Sohail Tanvir.

Sri Lanka: K Sangakkara (captain, wkt), T Dilshan, S Jayasuriya, M Jayawardene, C Silva, J Mubarak, A Mathews, A Mendis, M Muralitharan, L Malinga, I Udana, N Kulasekara, F Maharoof.

Umpires: S Taufel, D Harper (Australia)

Match referee: C Broad (England)

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