ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Sri Lanka v New Zealand, World Cup 2011, semi-final, Colombo

Sri Lanka survive jitters to reach World Cup final

The Report by Andrew Miller

March 29, 2011

Comments: 76 | Text size: A | A

Sri Lanka 220 for 5 (Dilshan 73, Sangakkara 54) beat New Zealand 217 (Styris 57, Mendis 3-35) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Tillakaratne Dilshan plays through the off side, Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 1st semi-final, World Cup 2011, Colombo, March 29, 2011
Tillakaratne Dilshan put Sri Lanka firmly on course for the final, before his dismissal sparked a late collapse © AFP

Sri Lanka overcame a serious bout of the jitters to book their place in Saturday's World Cup final in Mumbai, as New Zealand bowed out in the last four for the sixth time in ten campaigns, though with their pride fully intact after another fabulous never-say-die performance in Colombo.

In a strange amalgam of the one-sided thrashing that Sri Lanka handed out to England in their quarter-final on Saturday, and New Zealand's last-eight fightback against South Africa in Dhaka, the favourites duly progressed, and by a seemingly comfortable five-wicket margin. However, the closing stages were fraught in the extreme as a raucous home crowd was forced to postpone a party that had been in full swing for more than three-quarters of the contest.

Defending a mediocre total of 217 after a spirited batting effort had unravelled in a clatter of late wickets, New Zealand's lust for a scrap kicked in with a vengeance just when it seemed the match was finally out of their reach. At 160 for 1 in the 33rd over, with Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara entrenched in a game-breaking partnership of 120, what little attention had been on this, the less glamorous of the two semi-finals, had already begun to drift towards Wednesday's epic match-up in Mohali.

But then Dilshan, cruising on 73 from 93 deliveries and seemingly destined for his second hundred in consecutive matches, slapped loosely at Tim Southee and picked out Jesse Ryder at point, whose second catch of the innings was a far less breathtaking affair than his earlier one-handed pluck off Sri Lanka's pace-setter, Upul Tharanga.

Three balls later, the new man Mahela Jayawardene was beaten in flight by a beautiful dipping delivery from Daniel Vettori and nailed plumb lbw for 1, whereupon Sangakkara's habitually cool head deserted him, as he attempted to steer the lively Andy McKay over the keeper for four, but ended up dollying a simple chance to Scott Styris at third man.

Sri Lanka had lost three wickets for eight runs in 22 deliveries, and just as had been the case in the throttling of South Africa, New Zealand's bowlers ramped up the aggro while maintaining supremely disciplined lines and lengths. On the same worn wicket that had been used for the England quarter-final, runs suddenly became excruciatingly hard to come by as Sri Lanka's untested middle order was fully exposed to the limelight.

Chamara Silva and Thilan Samaraweera scraped together nine runs in six overs as the asking-rate climbed to close to five, and it took a message from the dressing room, delivered with a drink from Dilhara Fernando, to persuade them out of their defensive mindset. Silva responded with two fours in consecutive deliveries as Ryder's seam-up was brought into the attack, but three balls later he tried to get aggressive against the extra pace of Southee and chopped onto his own stumps for 13.

An injured Muttiah Muralitharan is given a ride, Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 1st semi-final, World Cup 2011, Colombo, March 29, 2011
Muttiah Muralitharan was chaired off the field after his final match on home soil © AFP

Samaraweera, however, had the experience to see his team home. A short ball from Ryder was fetched over midwicket for four, before a wild throw from Oram gifted him another four as the ball sailed over the keeper's head. Another error lopped five more precious runs off the total as a McKay wide slipped through the keeper's grasp, and though McKay responded with a beauty to Angelo Mathews that was sent to be reviewed for caught-behind, the lack of Hot Spot meant there was no evidence available to reverse the on-field decision.

And with a smoking six off Southee in the next over, the game was finally relieved of its tension - even though it took two winning shots to seal it, after Mathew's initial carve through the covers was called a dead-ball due to a firework exploding right at the moment of delivery. Instead, Samaraweera nudged through third man to wrap up the game with 13 balls to spare.

Such a nerve-jangling finale could not have seemed further from the agenda while Sri Lanka's innings was in full flow. From the moment Tharanga launched his third ball, from Nathan McCullum, straight down the ground for six, Sri Lanka were always ahead of the asking-rate. His departure for 30 from 31 balls did change the tempo of the Sri Lankan innings, but neither Dilshan nor Sangakkara had any reason to rush towards a modest victory target.

Sangakkara had an early let-off when he edged Oram at a catchable height through the vacant slip cordon, while Dilshan - who had been so combative against England - took 28 deliveries to score the second boundary of his innings, and his 50th of the World Cup to date. But he went on to pass 400 runs for the tournament, en route to overtaking Jonathan Trott as the leading run-scorer, and as Sangakkara finally began to nail his trademark cover-drives, New Zealand looked to have run out of ideas.

In hindsight, the Kiwis will look back on the closing stages of their own innings with regret, for a late collapse of 5 for 13, including 4 for 4 in 12 balls, undermined much of the good work they had put into the early part of their innings. The bed-rock was provided by Scott Styris, a centurion against Sri Lanka in the 2007 World Cup, who ground out a responsible 57 from 76 balls. But when he was extracted lbw by the final delivery that Muttiah Muralitharan will ever bowl on home soil, Sri Lanka responded euphorically to scythe through the tail and leave seven precious deliveries unused.

Whether a 240 target would have made any difference will remain a matter for conjecture. Though they fared better than any other team in the tournament so far in taking 41 runs off Sri Lanka's bowlers in the batting Powerplay, they were ultimately undone by the depth and variety of their attack, with Lasith Malinga's yorkers scalping three key wickets at critical moments.

Too many of New Zealand's batsmen made starts without going on. Martin Guptill flicked Malinga's fifth delivery through midwicket in a 65-ball 39, only for Malinga to york him superbly when he returned for his second spell, while Brendon McCullum slog-swept Rangana Herath for six, only to be bowled for 13 playing the exact same stroke. Taylor, whose ferocious hitting could have been so valuable at the death, launched a Mendis long-hop straight to deep midwicket just when he looked ready to build on his 36 from 55 balls.

But as Vettori takes his leave of the New Zealand captaincy, he can reflect on yet another campaign in which his team rose to the challenge of the big event in precisely the manner that too many of their supposed betters - namely England and South Africa - consistently fail to do. Sangakkara and his men, meanwhile, march on to their second final in consecutive World Cups, where Muralitharan - his broken body notwithstanding - will attempt to complete his career on the highest high imaginable.

Match Timeline

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

RSS Feeds: Andrew Miller


Comments: 76 
. Your ESPN name '' will be used to display your comments. Please click here to edit this.
Comments have now been closed for this article

Posted by Sewwandi on (April 1, 2011, 11:33 GMT)

mathews has proved 2 b da greatest again in da weak middle order!!!!! bt it is raising concerns, the selectors have again ignored arjuna's advices!!!!! belive me if mathews wasn't there v would loose!!

Posted by BJ on (April 1, 2011, 9:55 GMT)

First of all Shane Warne is the King of Spin no one better to watch and you cant denie that not Murali and thats coming from a Kiwi. NZ are always underrated they are a weak test team but never write them off in ODI's they compete with the best and can beat any team they were world no.2 before '07 world cup for a reason they are full of young talent and alot coming through the grades will be a copetitive team come 2016 WC in our back yard. SL are over Rated and have a strong top4 and bowlers but lack substance same with India top batting side but have a bowling attack weaker than bangladesh and both sides have ageing player and are bringing no1 through the grades unlike NZ an SA we will see where world cricket is in 4years time

Posted by Pushpakumara on (March 31, 2011, 5:03 GMT)

Srilankan's middle order must be strong.We have only one match to do it.How they chase a 300+ total with this middle order?Anyway other sides of the team are good.Take the challenge well.**Good luck mother SL!**

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 31, 2011, 4:54 GMT)

Well don SL, and good luck. Sanga's boys should continue to enjoy their cricket, and I'm hoping to see a very entertaining battle in the finals. An all-rounder might be a better prospect over a specialized spinner, given the situation; and would strengthen our batting line.

Posted by machhindra on (March 31, 2011, 4:48 GMT)

@HeshRu Now I will change the statement as For Srilanka it will not be easy to face INDIA after an easy QF-SF run. India is the Best Batting line as well as best batting team against Spinners. If you saw INDIA SA match cautiously you would not have commented in this way. It was turned in the last over. I guess we( INDIA) will win the world cup but will not underestimate Srilanka. Murali is clever guy he didnt want to face INDIA\Pakistan.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 30, 2011, 18:47 GMT)

Come on Lions ... come on

Posted by John on (March 30, 2011, 18:11 GMT)

i'm wondering that why snagakkara not playing kapugedara yet instead of samaraweera. see how samaweera getting persure him self in 50 ODI games. Kapu is genuine 50ODI player who is deserved to be seleced to 11 member.and he is good for Indian bolwers too.

so my team is

01. Tharanga 02. Dilshan 03. Sanga 04. Mahela 05. Chamara 06. Kapugedara 07. Mathews 08. Kulasekara 09. Herath 10. Malinga 11. Murali

Posted by Tharindu on (March 30, 2011, 13:04 GMT)

New Zealand WAS a team which is usually renowned for its fair play & they have won that fair play award several times I guess...But they proved that they are not suitable for that honourable award anymore !...The way they behave yesterday in the field is a real shame for even their past great cricketers, who used to be true gentlemen..Shame on you New Zealanders...!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 30, 2011, 11:54 GMT)

Well done Sri Lanka for beating the Kiwis and marching on to their second consecutive final of the world cup………… Whilst rejoicing the victory, we should admit to the fact that alarm bells started to ring as cracks reappeared in Sri Lankan brittle middle order under the heat of Kiwi magic. Sanga was quick to take responsibility for set batsmen not finishing the job, but I am sure he must really be worried about Chamara & Thilan's inability handle batting without inducing unwanted pressure on others to follow.

In the finals if our top order fails I doubt that above named two middle order batsmen will be able to carry us over the line in a pressure cooker situation of a World Cup Final…..!!!!!

Posted by Darshan on (March 30, 2011, 11:25 GMT)

SriLanka crushed England in real style and England took it very well and acknowledged the fact that the better team won. They were loosers on that day but they are definitely gentlemen and i raise my hat to Andrew Strauss. During the game there were no mind games or sledging but just solid cricket. It's about time some Kiwi players take a lesson from the Poms and ofcourse the SriLankans and learn to play cricket with bat and ball and not with their mouth. What ever the Kiwi's do they should not try to learn any more from their neighbours because they will only learn worst things.

Email Feedback Print
Andrew MillerClose
Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
News | Features Last 3 days
  • No stories yet
News | Features Last 3 days
  • No stories yet

World Cup Videos