Sri Lanka march to semi-finals in style
Sri Lanka 158 for 5 (Dilshan 48, Jayawardene 41*, Sangakkara 35) beat New Zealand 110 (Guptill 43, Mendis 3-9, Udana 2-17) by 48 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Sri Lanka's bowlers once again made up for their batsmen's inability to post a large total by slicing through New Zealand at Trent Bridge, securing a 48-run victory to cement their spot in the semi-finals of the World Twenty20. New Zealand challenged the target of 159 briefly but Ajantha Mendis turned the game Sri Lanka's way by dismissing Ross Taylor and Scott Styris within the space of four balls.
New Zealand began their chase brightly with Aaron Redmond biffing 20 runs off Sanath Jayasuriya's first over, the second of the innings. He blasted the ball past mid-on, carved it over cover, blazed another through extra cover before smacking the final over the long-off boundary. The versatility of the bowling, though, meant New Zealand's batsmen had to keep their wits about them and no one was able to stay long enough to cause significant damage.
Isuru Udana struck first, inducing a top-edge from Brendon McCullum to point before Lasith Malinga suckered Redmond into chipping a slower full toss to square leg. New Zealand, however, were decently placed at 64 for 2 after eight overs. Their position deteriorated rapidly in the next over. Mendis first delivered a wide ball from well behind the crease and had Ross Taylor stumped, he then beat Scott Styris' bat with a carrom ball and knocked off stump out of the ground. New Zealand had slipped to 66 for 4 and never recovered. Only Martin Guptill offered resistance, hitting the ball sweetly down the ground, during his innings of 43. The New Zealand challenge ended when he flat-batted Jayasuriya straight to the fielder at deep square leg.
Sri Lanka's bowlers had once again proved that they could make a fight of what ever total their batsmen gave them to defend. They were given 158 today, thanks to a curiously conventional innings from Tillakaratne Dilshan and substantial contributions from the experienced pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.
Daniel Vettori emphasized the importance of separating Sri Lanka's explosive openers early and he sought to do that by opening the bowling with the offspinner Nathan McCullum. The ploy worked immediately for Jayasuriya top-edged an attempted sweep to short fine leg, leaving Sri Lanka on 3 for 1. New Zealand's start grew better when Chamara Silva, who was promoted to No. 3, was caught at mid-on off a leading edge as he tried to close the face against Kyle Mills. Sri Lanka were losing direction at 25 for 2 when Sangakkara joined Dilshan for a 62-run stand for the third wicket. Sangakkara took the initiative, driving Ian Butler to the cover boundary off the front and back foot to begin his innings with consecutive fours. He added a third in the over by edging Butler to third man. Dilshan, who had made a scratchy start, ensured that Sri Lanka cashed in during the last over of the Powerplay. He pulled Mills to the midwicket boundary before cutting him twice through backward point for fours. Sri Lanka scored 24 off the last two Powerplay overs and got the innings back on track, reaching 51 for 2 after six overs. Dilshan, however, played neither the scoop over the wicketkeeper not the reverse swats past short fine leg, shots that have mocked the opposing captain's field placements in this tournament. Instead he resorted to more orthodox strokes - driving Scott Styris' first ball to the cover boundary - before he was caught at cover by Brendon McCullum off Vettori for 48 off 37 balls.
Sri Lanka, however, did not lose momentum after Dilshan's wicket because Jayawardene continued batting as fluently as he did against Ireland. He played his trademark inside out drives over cover, lofted a free hit from Vettori over the press box, and elegantly raced to 41 off 29 balls. His most unique shot of the day was a reverse paddle of Jacob Oram. What made it special was that Jayawardene hit the ball with the back of the bat and sent it speeding past short third man.
The result ensured Sri Lanka finished first in Group F, winning all three matches in the Super Eight. New Zealand, whose World Twenty20 campaign was blighted by a bizarre succession of injuries, exit the tournament having beaten only Ireland in the second round.
George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo