You know it is a difficult track to bat on when a batsman of sheer class, Mahela Jayawardene, plays some of the ugliest reverse swipes he ever has in his 36-ball essay.
When a dasher in Tillakaratne Dilshan almost plays out the innings without getting to a half-century and at a strike-rate of 80.
And also when a team like Sri Lanka bats their 20 overs without hitting a single six in their innings.
So when Umar Gul was thrashed for three boundaries in the last over of the Sri Lankan innings by the pair of Thisara Perera and Angelo Mathews, Pakistan could well have had the inkling of what was to follow.
The decision to bat first from Jayawardene was obviously an attempt to thwart the pressure of chasing in a game of this magnitude. But what he would not have bargained for was a struggling Dilshan, after what can easily be termed as a decent tournament with the bat.
It wasn’t Dilshan alone, most of those who followed had their life made difficult by the nature of the pitch.
Lot of credit should be afforded to Sohail Tanvir here. Picked ahead of Abdul Razzaq in today’s game, Tanvir’s three overs were fiery. On another day he might have earned him a bucketful. Today he had to remain content with figures of 0/11 in those three. Strangely, he never got another over.
For Sri Lanka, they weren’t the most pleasing runs Jayawardene would have scored. But his 36-ball 42 was the cornerstone of Sri Lanka’s opening wicket stand of 63. He attempted the conventional slogs, a few reverse sweeps and even came close to playing the Dilscoop, running short of gas in the end.
It was Shahid Afridi who accounted for Jayawardene.
Dilshan, at the other end, edged and missed probably more times than the runs he scored in the end.
Kumar Sangakkara, at three, showed not all was unwell with the pitch. In the 10 balls that he was at the crease, he hit three very graceful boundaries but sadly for his side, let his overconfidence get the better of him. His attempt to put Mohammad Hafeez over long-on culminated into a simple catch to that fielder.
Dilshan continued to struggle before Umar Gul ended his misery and when a ball later Jeevan Mendis’ attempt at a slog ended with his stumping, the Sri Lankan innings looked like it would never take off.
The purported slog almost never came for Sri Lanka. There was some frenetic hitting in the last over which cost Pakistan 16, which pushed the home side to some sense of respectability, but that apart, the innings never took off.
They scored 62 in the first 10, 61 in the next nine and but for that the final over were staring at the wrong side of 130.
That last over from Gul turned things around for the otherwise listless Sri Lanka.
Pakistan’s innings followed a pattern not too dissimilar from some of their other games in the tournament. The openers were solid – as much possible on this two-paced track – but sedate, the jittery middle-order collapsed when they should have set it up for the last few and a late-order resurrection was on cards with Umar Akmal at crease.
Akmal failed to shoot after loading the bullets, ending unbeaten on 29.
For once, it is difficult to blame the Pakistani batsmen in totality.
Imran Nazir, after swishing his bat around for his 20, saw one roll back on to his stumps and couldn’t do much about it.
Nasir Jamshed was given out lbw despite the ball pitching outside the leg-stump.
Kamran Akmal’s stint was ended by one that stopped on him so dramatically that he could have almost played another stroke on it.
Shoaib Malik was beaten off one that turned squared from Rangana Herath and as it turned out, it hit his off stump.
Mohammad Hafeez got to 42, which saw him use up 40 deliveries. Left with no option but to up the scoring, he was left stranded in his tracks off Herath.
Herath’s was an inspired selection. After couple of good shows by the mystery bowler Akila Dananjaya, most would have expected him to get the nod. Jayawardene chose experience over variety.
His four overs went for 25 and got him three wickets. The track suited him but his line and length was of the highest order. He could well have won the man-of-the-match award. In the end what mattered was that Jayawardene was able to lead Sri Lanka to a fourth World Cup final in five years.
(Suneer Chowdhary a Mumbai-based sports writer and tweets here @suneerchowdhary)