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Dilshan powers Sri Lanka into final

Sri Lanka overwhelmed the West Indies with bat and ball at The Oval on Friday to win their Twenty20 World Cup semifinal by 57 runs with 14 balls to spare.

Sri Lanka will meet Pakistan, which beat South Africa on Thursday, in today's final at Lord's, also in London.

Man-of-the-match Tillakaratne Dilshan came within four runs of the first century of the tournament, batting through the innings to finish on 96 not out from 57 balls in Sri Lanka's 158 for five.

Angelo Mathews then bowled Xavier Marshall, Lendl Simmons and Dwayne Bravo for ducks in an astonishing first over which effectively ended West Indies' run chase before it had begun.

Chris Gayle played a captain's role with no support from the other end.

He missed more than usual and was lucky not to become Mathews's fourth victim when he almost played on to the stumps but survived to carry his bat for 63 from 50 balls. No other batsman reached double figures.

Earlier, Sri Lanka openers Dilshan and Sanath Jayasuriya put on 73 for the first wicket before the latter was dismissed for a subdued 24.

Captain Kumar Sangakkara fell for a second-ball duck and Mahela Jayawardene made only two in West Indies' best passage of play.

Dilshan remained unruffled throughout. He struck Gayle for the first six of the innings, stroked three fours off a Kieron Pollard over and a further three off Bravo.

Jerome Taylor disappeared for six over mid-wicket and Mathews lent late assistance with a huge six and a four as Sri Lanka piled on 60 runs in the last five overs.

"I thought the total we got was a very challenging one and we owe everything to Dilshan for the way he set it up," Sangakkara told a news conference. "There are always areas we would like to improve and brush up but today was a near-flawless effort from our bowlers."

Sri Lanka and Pakistan have emerged triumphant from the horror of Lahore last March when gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus to stake a place in the final.

Sangakkara, one of six players wounded in the attack, said the assault had reminded his team of their own mortality.

"I think it is a fitting reward for the courage of the team in the way they have played in this tournament, all the players have got through," he said.

His Pakistan counterpart Younis Khan, whose team did not play a single test last year because of the uncertainty at home, sounded a similar note after beating South Africa on Thursday. "We are suffering from everything in Pakistan and everyone knows about all the fighting, a lot of fighting. If we can lift the Cup, it will provide great cheer for the people," Younis said.

The teams took strikingly different paths to today's final.

Sri Lanka has set the pace throughout with both bat and ball and has not lost a match.

Pakistan, desperately short of practice, was outplayed by England in its opening match but rallied remarkably to thrash New Zealand and then upset a confident, well-drilled South African team in Thursday's semifinal.


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