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Tuesday, Mar 31st

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jayawardeneSri Lanka advanced to the Final of the ICC World T20 on Thursday night with a nerve-wracking 16 run win against Asian rivals Pakistan. The match was a lot closer than the winning margin would reflect and Pakistan were very much in the hunt till the last few overs during which Sri Lanka dried up the runs. Batting first, Sri Lanka struggled to come to terms with a sluggish pitch, and had to battle their way to a score of 139-4 on the back of an excellent 42 from Mahela Jayawardene. Pakistan in response had a competitive start to their chase and were 55-1 approaching the half-way stage of their innings, but lost wickets in clusters and never really recovered, despite a combative 42 from their skipper Mohammad Hafeez.

Sri Lanka won their first toss of the tournament in today's semi-final against Pakistan and made the hard decision to bat first. Both teams made just the one change to their sides with Pakistan calling up left-arm seamer Sohail Tanvir for all rounder Abdul Razzaq, while Sri Lanka opted for the experience of Rangana Herath over rookie spinner Akila Dananjaya.

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In a mouth-watering rematch, Group A winner and 2009 champion England will play two-time runner-up New Zealand in the first semi-final of the ICC Women's World Twenty20 at R.Premadasa Stadium on Thursday 4 October. The two teams met in the final of the first ICC Women's World Twenty20 in 2009 at Lord's, where England beat New Zealand by six wickets.

In Group A, England defeated Pakistan in its opening match by 43 runs, then India by nine wickets, and, in a big hitting final match of the group stage, successfully chased down Australia's total of 144 to win by seven wickets, with 11 balls remaining.

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Australia's Shane Watson has continued to make an upward movement with his all-round exploits in the ICC World Twenty20 Sri Lanka 2012 in the latest Reliance ICC T20I Player Rankings, which were released on Wednesday at the end of the Super Eight stage.

Watson has moved up one place to second in the batting table after becoming the highest run-getter in the tournament to date, with 242 runs. He also achieved his career-best rating of 832 against South Africa in the Super Eight stage.

In addition to his batting exploits, Watson is also the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, with 11 wickets. This effort has also helped him move up a place to sixth in the Reliance ICC T20I Rankings for bowlers, with a best-ever rating of 671.

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saeed_ajmalPakistan gave themselves a very competitive shot of making it to the semi-finals of the ICC World T20 by hammering Australia by 32 runs in their last Group 2 game in Colombo on Tuesday. Batting first, Pakistan posted a competitive 149-6 in their 20 overs on the back of a crucial 79 partnership between Nasir Jamshed (55) and Kamran Akmal (32). Australia were woeful in their chase, rescued by veteran superstar Mike Hussey, who made an unbeaten half-century to ensure that they were not pushed behind Pakistan in the net run rate scenario, thereby guaranteeing them a spot in the semi-finals. Pakistan meanwhile would need South Africa to do them a bit of a favour in the game against India later in the day.

Australia won the toss and continued the recent trend of opting to chase in this penultimate Super Eights match against Pakistan. While Australia stuck to their winning combination from the last game, Pakistan opted to recall veteran allrounder Abdul Razzaq for this crunch game, perhaps to strengthen their batting more than anything else, in place of Yasir Arafat.

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lasith_malingaSri Lanka knocked out reigning champions England from the ICC World T20 with a comfortable 19 run win in the final Group 1 Super Eights match in Pallekele on Monday night. Batting first, the Lankans posted an imposing 169-6 in their 20 overs with their innings built on their ability to continuously attack depsite losing wickets of set batsmen in clumps. England in response had a horrific start and despite a late rally from Samit Patel (67) and Graeme Swann (34), fell 19 runs shy in the end. Lasith Malinga was the star of the show for the Lankans taking 5 wickets, including 3 in his first over to knock the stuffings out of the English chase.

The pressure was on Sri Lanka and England following West Indies win against New Zealand earlier in the day, but the hosts could see the funny side of the situation and sent Kumar Sangakkara out for the toss after Mahela had gone 0-3 in the tournament thus far. The change of 'skipper' failed to change Sri Lanka's fortunes with Stuart Broad winning the toss and inserting Sri Lanka in.

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gayle_stormThe West Indies kept their hopes of making the semi-finals of the World T20 alive with a hard fought win over New Zealand in a Super Over. Batting first, the Windies were bowled out for an under par score of 139 with none of their batsmen getting past 30. Doug Bracwell and Tim Southee picked up 3 wickets apiece to put New Zealand on top. However, the Kiwi batsmen once again flattered to deceive with the exception of Skipper Ross Taylor, who made an unbeaten 62 from just 40 balls. It wasn't enough though as New Zealand ended on 139-7 in their 20 overs. In the subsequent Super Over, New Zealand posted a very competitive 17 runs, but the West Indies got over the finish line with a ball to spare with Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels doing the business.

With matches in the Super Eights being consistently won by sides chasing, it came as no surprise that the New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor decided to have a bowl on winning the toss in Pallekele on the final day of matches in that wonderful yet rain deprived city.

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shane_watson_batAustralia picked up their second straight win of the Super Eights against a haphazard South African side in Colombo on Saturday evening to all but book a place in the semi-finals of the ICC World T20. The Aussies sit atop Group 2 and will need three results to go against them including a massive defeat for themselves to prevent them from taking a well deserved spot in the last four, an unlikely occurence. South Africa were far from their best today, doing well to reach 146-5 in their 20 overs after having found themselves 86-5 at one stage. Australia though made light work of the target with Shane Watson following up his 2-29 effort with the ball to score 70 from 47 balls to guide his side to victory. Mike Hussey also chipped in with a useful unbeaten 45 while Xavier Doherty was the pick of the bowlers, taking 3-29. 

With their backs against the wall in a do or die encounter in Colombo on Sunday afternoon, South Africa were under the cosh early having lost the toss and been put into bat. Xavier Doherty, called up to the Australian squad for this game in place of Daniel Christian, was given the new ball and rewarded the management's faith in his ability by picking up a wicket in each of his first two overs, dismissing Richard Levi for naught and getting the big fish Jacques Kallis for 6.

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