Murali seals Sri Lanka victory
Muttiah Muralitharan decisively struck twice in as many balls as Sri Lanka won a spin showdown against Pakistan at Lord's.
With the game in the balance, Muralitharan's double strike in the 16th over of Pakistan's chase was the turning point in a 19-run win in the Super Eights stage of the ICC World Twenty20.
It reduced Pakistan to 101 for five, and their position deteriorated rapidly against an impressive Sri Lanka attack.
The margin of victory was not anticipated when Pakistan captain Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq were realigning the pursuit of 151 during a half-century stand for the fourth wicket.
But Misbah pulled one straight to deep midwicket to terminate a contribution of 21, from 28 balls, and the dangerous Shahid Afridi holed out to the same region from the next delivery.
These two sides were meeting for the first time since the Lahore terrorist attack on Sri Lanka’s bus in March, an event which has restricted Pakistan's participation on the international stage since.
After a shocking display against England last week, Pakistan romped out of Group B and into the latter stages after thrashing Holland.
The loss of three early wickets, however, as Lasith Malinga's slower balls wreaked havoc, did not appear to effect their chances of another victory.
Khan kept his composure to lead from the front and for once Ajantha Mendis went wicketless.
The same fate appeared set for Muralitharan until those two moments of adventure cost Pakistan dear.
Any lingering hopes for Pakistan were then snuffed out when Khan miscued a slower ball from Malinga, the very next delivery after bringing up his half-century, and was taken by wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara, despite a collision with Murali chasing down a skier.
Earlier, it took an inspirational display with the ball from wrist-spinner Afridi to restrict Sri Lanka to 150 for seven.
Sri Lanka were given a rapid start to the second phase of the World Twenty20 thanks to Pakistan profligacy with the ball.
But Afridi removed both openers Tillekeratne Dilshan and Sanath Jayasuriya after halting the first-wicket stand at 81.
Jayasuriya, who blasted West Indies for 81 during the group stages, perished when he top-edged a hoik towards the leg-side.
And Dilshan followed in Afridi's next over when a quicker ball zipped through his defences.
That double strike sent his career wicket tally to 28, and temporarily made him the most prolific bowler in 20-over international history - a tag later reclaimed by team-mate Umar Gul.
It also began a Sri Lanka demise of five wickets for 51 runs in nine overs.
Their early impetus had been provided by a glut of wides and no-balls from left-arm paceman Sovail Tanvir.
His first over spanned 11 balls and his first spell returned shocking figures of 2-0-29-0.
But his colleagues bowled with greater discipline and Jayasuriya's pull off Mohammad Aamir in just the fourth over was the only six of the innings.
Later in the same over, man-of-the-match Dilshan produced his signature stroke when he scooped a delivery in excess of 80 mile per hour over wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal for four.
Sri Lanka had raced to 65 without loss by the time Afridi was introduced into the attack for the seventh over.
His four overs cost just 23 runs and strangled the scoring rate on a sluggish surface, which made late boundary hitting a tricky proposition.
Paceman Gul claimed Chamara Silva and Nuwan Kulasekera at the death to leapfrog back over Afridi into top spot and set his team a required rate of seven-and-a-half runs per over.