Colombo: The World
Cup will return to the subcontinent after 15 years as Sri Lanka
fought their way into the final Tuesday, beating New Zealand by five
They await the winners of Wednesday's
second semifinal between India and Pakistan at Mohali. Tillakaratne
Dilshan struck a belligerent half-century, which offset a mini
middle-order collapse, and paved the way for Sri Lanka to enter
their second successive final. Four years ago, the 1996 champions
lost to Australia, who won the cup for the third straight time and
Dilshan, who struck 73, shared a 40-run opening partnership with
Upul Tharanga (30) and later raised 120 runs with skipper Kumar
Sangakkara (54) chasing a 218-run target.
Just as the Sri Lankans looked like completing another easy victory,
the Black Caps fought back to claim four wickets in quick time.
Paceman Tim Southee (3-57) took three wickets and raised an alarm in
the Sri Lankan camp for a short while and in the process, overtook
Zaheer Khan as the tournament's second highest wicket-taker.
In the end, a careful Thilan Samaraweera (23) and an aggressive
Angelo Mathews (14) saw Sri Lanka through with 13 balls to spare.
Two lusty blows into the straightfield by Mathews, the first one
clearing the boundary, settled the issue and it was time for
celebrations as the Colombo skyline lit up with fireworks.
The disappointed New Zealand players, who had spoken of making their
first final in six attempts, stood speechless.
Spin king Muttiah Muralitahran (2-42), who played his last ODI at
home, took a lap of the ground and was greeted by the packed stands.
New Zealand would be proud of their semifinal achievement as they
came to the tournament on the back of 11-match losing streak, but
went on to shock South Africa in the quarterfinals.
The New Zealand innings revolved around Scott Styris, who put on 77
runs with Ross Taylor (36) in a painstaking fourth-wicket
partnership. Murali dismissed Styris lbw with his last ball on his
home turf amid a huge roar from the crowd. Murali acknowledged the
applause by doffing his cap.
New Zealand were soon bowled out in 48.5 overs.
Sri Lanka began in a blazing fashion. Dilshan and Tharanga (30), who
scored unbeaten centuries in Sri Lanka's 10-wicket victory against
England, looked as if they were resuming from where they left off in
the quarterfinal. Tharanga smashed Nathan McCullum for a six off the
third ball of the innings to send out a clear message as the duo
added 40 off 44 balls.
Tharanga, however, fell to a brilliant one-handed catch by Jesse
Ryder at point off Southee.
Dilshan and captain Kumar Sangakkara then joined hands to take the
match away from New Zealand.
Dilshan hit 10 fours and a six before Ryder pouched his catch at
backward point off Southee. The explosive Sri Lankan is the top
scorer in the tournament with 467 runs from eight matches, which
include two hundreds and two half-centuries.
After Dilshan's fall, Sri Lanka wobbled a bit and lost two quick
wickets. Daniel Vettori trapped Mahela Jayawardene lbw and
Sangakkara holed out to third man Styris off Andy McKay, leaving the
hitherto untested middle order to finish the job.
With two new batsmen in Samaraweera and Chamara Silva (13), Vettori
attacked, bringing the field in, and Sri Lanka looked in a spot of
bother. Southee cleaned up Chamara, but Samaraweera and Mathews took
the team home.
The Black Caps innings, on the other hand, was left wanting for a
good finish. Deciding to bat first, they looked poised for a bigger
total but wickets tumbled at regular intervals. Lasith Malinga
(3-55) and Ajantha Mendis (3-35), who mopped up the tail, did the
After a sedate start, they lost three wickets for 84 and the
spinners gave little away and the runs dried up.
Kane Williamson (22) played some attacking shots, but the tail could
not wag and the Sri Lankans were left to chase a manageable target.