ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features
Sri Lanka v New Zealand, World Cup 2011, semi-final, Colombo
Bowling masks Sri Lanka's batting woes
New Zealand struggled to post a score to challenge the home side, but their bowling managed to expose Sri Lanka's middle order problems
March 29, 2011
Sri Lanka undoubtedly started strong favourites against a New Zealand side whom they had beaten convincingly in their previous four World Cup meetings including the most recent one in Mumbai. Except for a brief while in the New Zealand innings when Ross Taylor and Scott Styris came together for a 77-run stand, it always seemed like Sri Lanka had things under control.
Against a potent and varied Sri Lankan attack, it was imperative that New Zealand have a strong start. However, the loss of three early wickets put them on the backfoot immediately. Though Styris and Taylor restored the balance temporarily, there was a flurry of wickets after the batting Powerplay was taken in the 41st over. From a healthy 192 for 4, New Zealand lost their last six wickets for just 25 runs to be bowled out for 217 in the 49th over.
New Zealand were expected to struggle against spin but they faced an even bigger problem in form of Lasith Malinga. His accurate and deadly yorker-length deliveries were almost impossible to score off and produced three wickets. In between, Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan picked up five wickets while conceding just 77 runs. England managed just 48 runs in boundaries in their quarter-final defeat to Sri Lanka and though New Zealand did slightly better, they were stifled by the Sri Lankan spinners and never quite managed to dictate terms in the middle of the innings.
All opposition teams have found the going extremely difficult in the final ten overs against Sri Lanka in Colombo. England scored just 56 runs and lost three wickets whereas New Zealand lost six wickets for 58. Malinga was also destructive in the game against Kenya as Sri Lanka picked up six wickets for just 15 runs in the final overs. Only Pakistan managed to play with some confidence in the final overs, scoring 68 runs for the loss of four wickets in their 11-run win.
Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan started from where they left off against England and despite the fall of the aggressive Tharanga, Sri Lanka were well and truly on top for most part of the innings. They scored 132 runs in boundaries and were always above the required run-rate. New Zealand refused to go down without a fight though, and as they did in the game against South Africa, they seized the moment when Dilshan fell at the score of 160. The loss of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara for the addition of just nine more runs brought New Zealand right back into the contest. However, with Daniel Vettori completing his quota of overs, Sri Lanka were able to achieve the target after scoring some easy runs off the part-time bowlers.
Although Sri Lanka managed to win the game quite comfortably in the end, they will be concerned about the loss of wickets in the middle which made the chase far tougher than it was meant to be. Their middle order has hardly been tested in this tournament and there has been only one fifty scored by a lower middle-order batsman (No. 5 to No. 9). In contrast, Pakistani and Indian lower middle-order batsmen have scored four and three fifties respectively.
More stats from the game
Scott Styris moved ahead of Martin Crowe on the list of highest run getters for New Zealand in World Cups. His tally of 900 is now second only to Stephen Fleming's 1075 runs. His half-century was his third fifty-plus score against Sri Lanka in World Cups following his centuries in the 2003 and 2007 World Cup games.
With his haul of 2 for 42, Muttiah Muralitharan moved to within three wickets of equalling Glenn McGrath as the highest wicket taker in World Cups. He now has 68 wickets from 39 matches at an average of 19.05 with four four-wicket hauls.
This was Muralitharan's 39th appearance in World Cups, the highest for a Sri Lankan. He went past Sanath Jayasuriya's record of 38 appearances.
Sri Lanka became the first subcontinent team to reach two consecutive World Cup finals. Overall, this is their third appearance in the final.
With their half-centuries, both Dilshan and Sangakkara went past 400 runs in the World Cup. Dilshan, with 467 runs., leads the run tally in the World Cup so far and Sangakkara is third with 417 runs.
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