Bangalore, Dec 12 (IANS) Arch rivals India and Pakistan will clash in the T20 World Cup for the sightless Thursday as both teams cruised through semi-finals Wednesday, beating Sri Lanka and England respectively at the Central College ground here.
India piled up 318 runs for eight wickets in the stipulated 20 overs and restricted the Lankans to 195 for six wickets in their 20 overs to storm into the final by 123 runs.
In the other semi-final, Pakistan surpassed the modest target (182) by hitting 184 for loss of one wicket in just 12.2 overs after restricting England to 181 runs for nine wickets in their 20 overs.
Opting to bat first after captain Shekar Naik won the toss, India made a breezy start posting 78 runs in the first three overs as vice-captain Ajay Kumar Reddy (partially blind) carried his brilliant form to hit 134 off 55 balls, while Ketan Patel (totally blind) and Ganesh Bushara (partially blind) contributed valuable runs to make 54 in 31 balls and 59 not out in 25 balls.
Though in-form Prakash Jayaramaiah (partial vision) was out plumb while attempting an outlandish drive after posting 27 in eight balls with flurry of shots, the Indian batsmen accelerated the run rate, thanks to sloppy fielding and dropped catches in the outfield by the beleaguered Sri Lankans.
Chasing an imposing target of 319 runs, the Sri Lankans made a hash of their batting by losing wickets regularly and trailing behind in the run rate even in the slog overs.
Deshapriya (partial vision) waged a lonely battle for the Sri Lankans with an unbeaten 111 off 63 balls.
Reddy was adjudged man of the match for his century and two wickets for 23 runs.
Legendary former Lankan skipper Arjuna Ranatunga, who flew in to watch his team face off against the Indians said, blind cricket was a treat to watch the high commitment levels of the players, which is even more than that of many regular cricket players.
In the other exciting semis, England messed up its campaign and were outplayed by a surcharged Pakistan, whose in-form Mohammad Akram (partial vision) hammered 103 not out in 42 balls to reach the target in the 13th over, as he was ably assisted by Aamir Ishfaq (totally blind) with 36 not out in 22 balls and Aleem Murtaza (partially blind) scoring 29 in nine balls.
Pakistan won the semis by nine wickets.
Akram was declared man of the match.
Emotions ran high in a surcharged atmosphere in anticipation of an Indo-Pak final Thursday.
While the Pakistan contingent, fresh from emphatic win over England in the other semis, rent the ground with cries of "Pakistan Zindabad", Indian fans responded with frenzy catch phrases "Jeetega bhai Jeetega, World Cup Jeetega!"
With both India and Pakistan in nick en route to the title clash, the stage is set for a cracker of a contest in the finale.
The players are classified into three categories - totally blind as B1, partially blind as B2 and with partial vision B3. Each team of 11 members comprises four blind (B1), three partially blind (B2) and four with partial vision (B3). The wicketkeeper is a B3 player.
Interestingly, for every run scored by the blind, one more is added. As a result, a hit to the boundary will be counted as eight and a sixer as 12.
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