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Sri Lanka in ICC final again

 

Sri Lanka reached their second successive World Cup final on Tuesday, clearing the tournament decks for India and Pakistan's heavyweight collision.

Sri Lanka in ICC final again

 

Sri Lanka reached their second successive World Cup final on Tuesday, clearing the tournament decks for India and Pakistan's heavyweight collision.
 
Sri Lanka, the 1996 champions and runners-up to Australia in 2007, overcame a worrying wobble to beat New Zealand by five wickets in Colombo and will tackle either India or Pakistan in Saturday's final in Mumbai. Having dismissed the Black Caps for just 217, Sri Lanka reached 220-5 with 13 balls to spare but only after a nervy conclusion.
 
Tillakaratne Dilshan (73) and skipper Kumar Sangakkara (54) put on 120 for the second wicket before Sri Lanka lost three quick wickets to slump from 160-1 to 169-4.
 
But a limping Angelo Mathews (14) and Thilan Samaraweera (23) eventually saw their team home. Victory also prolonged Muttiah Muralitharan's international career by one more game after the veteran off-spinner, who'll retire after the tournament, had marked his last appearance in Sri Lanka with two wickets.
 
In keeping with his dramatic career, the 38-year-old record-setting bowler took a wicket off the last ball of his final over on home soil when he had top scorer Scott Styris (57) lbw to send the 38,000-crowd at the R. Premadasa stadium into wild celebrations.
 
New Zealand, playing in their sixth semi-final, lost their last seven wickets for just 56 runs. “Playing your last match in your country is emotional. When I played my last Test and took eight wickets it was very emotional,” said Muralitharan referring to his last Test against India in 2010 where he also took a wicket off his last ball. “The nation awaits you Murali,” said one placard in the crowd, while another said: “Murali, thank you for the memories.”Meanwhile, more than 2,000 police and commandos threw a security blanket around Mohali ahead of Wednesday's semi-final between India and Pakistan, the pair's first meeting on Indian soil since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
 
Although relations are still tense, the match has become a diplomatic lever with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani accepting an invitation from his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh to attend the match.
 
“We are leaving nothing to chance. The security will be multi-layered,” said Mohali's Senior Superintendent of Police G.P.S. Bhullar.
 
Around 100 commandos belonging to Punjab's Special Security Group, trained by Israeli counter-terrorism experts, will be on duty at the 30,000-capacity PCA stadium.
 
All tickets for the game have been sold. A man trying to sell 200-rupee tickets for 30,000 rupees ($670) on auction website eBay was arrested on Monday.
 
Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi said he'd no problems with all the extra responsibility in the game.
 
“I think I am a cricketer first and then the diplomat. I am an ambassador for Pakistan,” said Afridi, the tournament's top wicket taker with 21 scalps.
 
“I think it's a great sign for both countries and sports, especially cricket always brings these two countries together.”His India counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni insisted his team would just concentrate on the job at hand.
 
(DM)
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