New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Super Eights, Grenada April 12, 2007

Fleming's bane

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Scott Styris has scored two World Cup hundreds against Sri Lanka but New Zealand have lost both matches © Getty Images

Sri Lanka have virtually booked their spot in the semi-finals with a clinical six-wicket victory against New Zealand at Grenada. Stephen Fleming won the toss and chose to bat but that was perhaps the only thing that went their way against a dominant opponent.

Fleming's stay at the crease lasted only four balls and he was dismissed in identical fashion to his last three ODIs against Sri Lanka - lbw to Chaminda Vaas for a duck. New Zealand lost each of those three matches, and the today turned out to be no different. Fleming has now been dismissed 11 times by Vaas, the most by any bowler in odis. Fleming's one-day average against Sri Lanka is now 19.25 after 32 innings, the lowest against any Test-playing nation.

After New Zealand had been reduced to 4 for 2, Vaas and co didn't let up and kept the run-scoring to the bare minimum. Peter Fulton scored 28 runs off 54 balls and only one of those runs came on the off side, a clear indication that there was hardly any width on offer and if there was, the off side cordon was too difficult to pierce. New Zealand crawled to 18 for 2 after ten overs whereas Sri Lanka had stacked up 66 for 1 at the same stage.

The Sri Lankans choked New Zealand so effectively that they were not able to build any momentum. Scott Styris struck eight fours and Fulton hit four but none of the other seven batsmen were able to find the fence although Jacob Oram and James Franklin hit a six each. Even the centurion, Styris, found the going tough. He hit his sixth four in the 18th over and had to wait until the 49th for his seventh. In fact the only time New Zealand scored a boundary between the 19th and 49th overs was when Oram and Franklin hit sixes in the 38th and 48th overs.

Here are some other statistical highlights from the day's play.

  • Today's game was Fleming's 24th match as captain in a World Cup. He went past Mohammad Azharuddin whose 23 matches was the most for a captain in a World Cup.

  • Six of Fleming's 17 ducks have come against Sri Lanka, while seven times he has been trapped in front of the stumps for nought. Fleming has been lbw for a duck in his last four innings against Sri Lanka, all of them courtesy Vaas. Also, 14 of Fleming's ducks have come as captain, which equals Arjuna Ranatunga's record. Next in line is Sourav Ganguly, with nine zeroes as captain.

  • Styris's 111 was his second hundred in World Cups. His 141 against Sri Lanka at Bloemfontien in 2003 was also in a losing cause. Styris is the second batsman, after Herschelle Gibbs, whose two hundreds have been in defeats. Gibbs scored 101 against Australia at Headingley in 1999 and 143 against New Zealand at Johannesburg in 2003.

  • Mahela Jayawardene became Daniel Vettori's 200th ODI wcket. Vettori is the third New Zealand bowler to reach the landmark after Chris Harris and Chris Cairns. Vettori is now tied with Cairns on 201 wickets and is two behind Harris who has 203.

    George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo