• Sri Lanka could include rookie Akila Dananjaya in their ranks
Dav Whatmore knows what it takes to coach a side to an ICC Trophy against the odds. He did it with Sri Lanka in the World Cup as long ago as 1996; he might do it again with Pakistan in 2012.
Whatmore's teams are not afraid of a bit of lateral thinking. In the 1990s he hit upon a neat idea, which would help Sri Lanka to win their first global trophy. The notion of one pinch-hitter at the top of the order was around then. But why not two? So Whatmore encouraged the idea of sending out Romesh Kaluwitharana with Sanath Jayasuriya and giving them both licence to play their shots in the first 10 overs and beyond, if possible. It was brave, even better, it worked.
Now Whatmore is plotting the downfall of Sri Lanka in the semi-final of the World Twenty20 in his new role as coach of Pakistan.
The notion of playing two or three spinners in T20, especially in the sub-continent has been around for a while. But why not five? That is what Pakistan did against Australia and it worked a treat. His team compromised a little in that match since the paceman, Umar Gul, was permitted to bowl two overs at the end of Pakistan's comprehensive victory.
With their array of spinners, and Saeed Ajmal to the fore, Pakistan are well-equipped to play at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, where the pitches are inevitably becoming drier and more worn after so many days of cricket. If they can eke out enough runs no team has such a varied spin attack. So far those runs have come from two of the less exalted cricketers in the world, Imran Nazir and Nasir Jamshed.
Sri Lanka's main run scorers are better known. Mahela Jayawardene has been in majestic form and received good support from the team's senior citizens; Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara. These batsmen, in home conditions and in front of a home crowd, will not be as intimidated by the preponderance of Pakistani spinners as the Australians were on Tuesday night.
ICC trophies are seldom won by the home team but the Sri Lankans, who have performed with increasing efficiency throughout the tournament, will take some beating. And not all of their citizens are that senior. They may include the 18-year-old Akila Dananjaya, who shows no signs of being overawed by being tossed into this tournament on the back of an impressive net session in front of Jayawardene a few months ago.