SL through to WC final; beat NZ by 5 wickets
Zeecric Bureau/Vaibhav Arora
Colombo: Tillakaratne Dilshan’s brilliant innings of 73 and his partnership of 120 for the second wicket with Kumar Sangakkara (54) ensured that Sri Lanka overhauled the target of 218 set by New Zealand and book their second successive appearance in a World Cup final.
Although the Kiwis made a late comeback into the game courtesy a few quick wickets in the middle of the Sri Lankan innings, which saw the home team slump from a comfortable 160/1 at one stage to a precarious 185/5, the Lankans did not have to sweat a lot in their easy 5 wicket win.
The victory means that regardless of the outcome of the second semi-final between India and Pakistan on Wednesday, it will be an all Asian final at the Wankhede Stadium on April 2.
Chasing 218 to win, the Sri Lankan openers started off at a brisk pace as Upul Tharanga made his intentions clear by smashing Nathan McCullum for a six in the very first over.
However, against the run of play, Jesse Ryder took a brilliant diving catch at point as Southee drew first blood for New Zealand to remove dangerman Tharanga (30).
Contrary to their blistering start, Sri Lanka slowed up considerably after the fall of Tharanga’s wicket but ensured that they remained on course to chase down the target.
Shortly after, Dilshan slammed a well deserved half-ton that came off 71 balls and included 6 fours and a six. Sangakkara too completed his fifty soon after as the Lankans inched closer to victory. Sangakkara’s half-ton came off 72 balls and consisted of 6 fours and a six.
The twist in the tale came as Southee claimed his second wicket of the match in the form of Dilshan. Dilshan was caught by Ryder for 73 as SL lost their second wicket at the total of 160.
A few more quick wickets gave New Zealand hope of an improbable victory but it was too much to expect the hope team to give it away after coming so close to victory.
Angelo Mathews hit a decisive blow as he smashed a delivery from Tim Southee out of the park with Sri Lanka requiring just 14 to win. Just a ball later, Mathews hit another boundary to quash any hopes that the Kiwis had of making a comeback into the game.
Earlier, a flurry of wickets towards the end of their innings saw New Zealand, who were looking set for a competitive total at one stage, being dismissed for a paltry 217.
New Zealand, who were 192/4 at one stage, lost their last six wickets for just 25 runs to be bowled out inside their quota of 50 overs.
Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis took three wickets each while Muttiah Muraliathran ended with figures of 42/2 off his 10 overs. Murali, who was playing his last one-day international match on Lankan soil, claimed the wicket of Scott Styris off his last delivery to bring back memories of his last Test where he ended in similar fashion.
For New Zealand, Styris was the only significant contributor with 57.
Electing to bat first after winning the toss, the Kiwis got off to a brisk start as openers Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill hit a few delightful strokes. However, the party did not last long as McCullum (13) was soon cleaned up by Rangana Herath with the scorecard reading 32.
After another little partnership between Guptill and Jesse Ryder, Ryder (19) became New Zealand’s second wicket to fall after being caught behind the stumps by Kumar Sangakkara off Muralitharan.
Shortly after, Malinga clean bowled Guptill (39) with a beautiful inswinging yorker that took the batsman completely by surprise.
A 77-run partnership between Ross Taylor and Scott Styris gave the Kiwis a ray of hope but the wicket of Taylor (36), who was claimed by Mendis, gave the Lankans the upper hand in the game.
The turning point of the game came when Malinga came back for another spell and removed Kane Williamson (22) immediately. The wicket opened the floodgates as wickets kept tumbling one after the other.
The carnage finally ended with the wicket of Andy McKay (0) as New Zealand folded up in 48.5 overs.