Sri Lanka use every trick in the book

Switching captains ahead of Super Eights match against England helps hosts avoid penalty for failing to meet required over rate

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 October, 2012, 1:41am


Hosts Sri Lanka have used a bagful of tricks to outwit rivals on their way to the World Twenty20 semi-finals - even changing captains for a match to further their cause.

Eyebrows were raised when Kumar Sangakkara, and not regular captain Mahela Jayawardene, walked out to contest the toss for Monday's last Super Eights match, against England, in Pallekele.

Both Jayawardene and designated vice-captain Angelo Mathews were part of the playing 11, but the team sheet had senior pro Sangakkara as skipper in an extraordinary turn of events.

Jayawardene explained later that the change was made to prevent him and Mathews from missing out on the semi-finals since both of them were already serving a one-match notice for slow over-rates.

"The intention was not wrong," Jayawardene said after the 19-run win over England that knocked the defending champions out of the tournament and lifted the hosts and the West Indies into the semi-finals from group one.

"I had a warning for an over-rate issue, and if it happened again I could have missed the next match. It's a tough system and it's tough to bowl 20 overs in one hour and 20 minutes in a tournament like this.

"We try our best, but the penalties are harsh. We don't want to miss the big games, so we did it with the right intentions.

"Angelo Mathews was on the same offence, so if he got nailed he would have missed the game as well. We had to find someone who didn't have a rap sheet and Kumar fitted the bill."

Jayawardene revealed team manager Charith Senanayake had verified the rules and consulted the International Cricket Council's code of conduct before making the change.

"I am sure they will change the rules after this, but hopefully not in this tournament," he said.

The ICC didn't specifically address the issue yesterday but said it will review the rules in the tournament aftermath.

Dominant Sri Lanka won all three Super Eight matches to top the group and now await the second-placed team from the other half in the first semi-final at the Premadasa stadium in Colombo tomorrow.

Yesterday, Saeed Ajmal and Raza Hasan spun Pakistan to a 32-run victory against Australia in their Super Eight match to keep alive their semi-final hopes.

Despite the defeat, Australia advanced to join Sri Lanka and West Indies in the last four with a superior net run-rate after beating India and South Africa in their earlier Super Eight matches.

Off-spinner Ajmal took three wickets for 17 while man-of-the-match Hasan picked up two for 14 runs as Australia could only manage 117 for seven in their 20 overs, chasing 150 for victory.

Hafeez thanked his bowlers for rising to the occasion after the eight-wicket defeat against arch-rivals India on Sunday.

"Everybody realised that we have to win the game and win with a margin. I am grateful to see the effort of the boys," Hafeez said.

"It was terrific by everybody and every bowler did a great job for Pakistan. We wanted our bowlers to do the job and we got the total we really wanted."