Sangakkara, Murali steal show as SL thump NZ

Mumbai: Skipper Kumar Sangakkara struck his maiden World Cup century before wily Muttiah Muralitharan weaved his spin magic to propel Sri Lanka to a thumping 112-run victory over New Zealand in their concluding Group A match of the mega-event.

Sangakkara stroked his way to 111 in 128 balls, studded with two sixes and 11 fours, and also forged an invaluable 145 runs for the third wicket with his predecessor Mahela Jayawardene (66) that helped Lanka amass 265 for nine after opting to bat at the Wankhede Stadium.

New Zealand, who had qualified for the knock out stage along with Sri Lanka, started in a whirlwind fashion but lot their openers cheaply before Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis and Tillakaratne Dilshan strangled them with spin.

The Kiwis found the going tough while chasing under lights and were folded up for 153 in 35 overs, losing their last eight wickets for just 71 runs.

It was Sri Lanka`s fourth straight win over New Zealand in head-to-head World Cup battles.

Muralitharan, who has announced his retirement at the end of the tournament, grabbed four wickets for 25. He got good support from Mendis (2 for 24) and Dilshan (1 for 24).

Among the Kiwi batsmen, stand-in skipper Ross Taylor emerged as the top scorer with 33 in 54 balls, with one six and three fours, before he became one of Muralitharan`s victims. The next best scorers were James Franklin and Jacob Oram, 20 each, with the latter remaining unbeaten.

With this win Sri Lanka also shot to the top of the Group A. They finished the league stages with nine points but have a superior net run-rate than Australia, who also have nine points with a match in hand against Pakistan tomorrow at Colombo.

But irrespective of the result of the last league clash between Australia and Pakistan, who are tied with New Zealand at eight points apiece, Sri Lanka would finish in second spot and would meet the team that finishes third in Group B in the quarter-finals.

New Zealand stood third at the end of the match but await the result of the Australia-Pakistan clash to know where they finish in the league table.

The Kiwis` run-chase got off to a none-too-impressive beginning as both their openers were back inside the first eight overs.

Brendon McCullum, who stroked his way to 101 five days ago at this very ground against minnows Canada, displayed the same kind of form by carting the new ball around briefly but fell while poking at a rising ball from Angelo Mathews to be caught brilliantly at slip by Jayawardene.


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