Sri Lanka 174-7 (Dilshan 76) beat
New Zealand 174-6 (Nicol 58) on a Super Over
ICC World Twenty20 Group 1, Pallekele
Report by John Pennington
There was high drama as the Super Eight stage of the ICC World Twenty20 got underway in Pallekele as Sri Lanka held their nerve to beat New Zealand on a Super Over.
Both teams scored 174 - Rob Nicol hitting 58 for New Zealand and Tillakaratne Dilshan 76 for Sri Lanka in a high-class display of powerful batting - before it came down to cricket's equivalent of the penalty shootout.
Sri Lanka failed to score a boundary and lost a wicket but 13 proved to be enough as Lasith Malinga delivered a wonderful over to hold New Zealand to seven for one.
New Zealand won the toss and chose to bat as Sri Lanka handed an international debut to spinner Akila Dananjaya – the youngest Twenty20 International player for Sri Lanka.
New Zealand made a slow start as Nuwan Kulasekara and Angelo Mathews kept things tight until openers Rob Nicol and Martin Guptill settled and begin to dominate attack, Guptill hitting brutally down the ground.
Sri Lanka were not at their best in the field, allowing New Zealand bonus runs, and in the seventh over Jayawardene turned to his new cap and with just his third ball, he struck when Guptill was caught by Tissera Perera at long off having made 38 in 30 balls with six fours.
Nicol simply carried on batting aggressively, targeting the straight boundary as Brendon McCullum celebrated his 31st birthday by hitting Dananjaya for six down the ground, until his cameo was ended by Ajantha Mendis, who had him caught by Perera for 25 in 16 balls.
Nicol then struck back to back sixes in the 15th over to reach his half-century in 36 balls, and added a third later in the over as Mendis leaked 24 in all from an expensive set of six.
Nicol finally departed, having made 58 in 40 balls, when Dananjaya had him caught by Lahiru Thirimanne in the deep although fielding woes continued, a couple of missed run out chances allowing Jacob Oram (6) and Ross Taylor (23) to prosper, albeit briefly.
Nuwan Kulasekara removed both, bowling Taylor with an excellent slower ball and then seeing Oram drill the ball to Tillakaratne Dilshan at long off, both wickets coming from the 18th over as Sri Lanka fought back well.
Lasith Malinga bowled Nathan McCullum for three as New Zealand tried to make the best use of the final overs, James Franklin unbeaten on eight and Kane Williamson being run out from the final ball for three.
Sri Lanka then charged out of the blocks, Dilshan hitting his first two balls for four and six and helping himself to another four off Nathan McCullum.
Mahela Jayawardene won the race between the pair to reach 1,000 Twenty20 International runs and then clipped Tim Southee for six and drove Kyle Mills over cover for the same result.
The half-century came up soon after Dilshan put Southee into the stands at midwicket and it took just 25 balls, the quickest of the tournament to date. The Power Play ended with Sri Lanka on 68 without loss – another tournament record.
The introduction of Daniel Vettori, and then the wicket of Jayawardene, who scooped Oram to Vettori at deep backward square, slowed Sri Lanka’s progress. The captain had hit 44 in just 26 balls, including three fours and as many sixes.
It wasn’t all blasting from the batsmen as both Jayawardene and Dilshan guided the ball to the boundary at third man.
New batsman Kumar Sangakkara then took on Jacob Oram, hitting two fours through midwicket in consecutive deliveries to bring up 100 at the end of the tenth over.
He fell to a run out having hit 21 and Sri Lanka began to wobble when Jeevan Mendis was caught by Taylor off Franklin for eight.
Dilshan (76 in 53 balls) carried on regardless, and a huge six off Franklin in the 19th over relieved some pressure before he too was run out to make score 161 for four leaving his side with 14 to win from 10 balls
Perera (5) and Mathews (12 not out) were charged with finishing the game off, and Perera hit a crucial boundary in the penultimate over but Franklin hits back by bowling him so eight was needed from the final over, to be bowled by Southee.
Lahiru Thirimanne struggled early on and all Sri Lanka could muster were singles from first three balls, then a dot, then a four flicked over short fine by Thirimanne to level the scores.
As the batsmen attempted to scramble a single to win the game, New Zealand appeared to have bungled the run out opportunity only for replays to show that Taylor had dropped the ball onto the stumps.
Southee was selected to bowl New Zealand’s Super Over and made things difficult for Sri Lanka. Two runs were given away through wides but Jayawardene, Perera and Dilshan failed to hit a boundary in making 13 for one.
The man charged with defending the score was Malinga and he bowled even better than Southee had. A dropped catch and a fumble from Sangakkara behind the stumps offered three bonus runs and when Guptill connected with one he was well caught on the boundary by Dilshan and with eight required from one ball, New Zealand could only manage a leg bye.
© Cricket World 2012
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