Sri Lanka and England collect significant wins in the Super Eights at the World Twenty20.
Mahela Jayawardene proves too strong for West Indies
COLOMBO // Sri Lanka put one step into the semi-finals of the World Twenty20 when the hosts recorded a comfortable win in the Super Eights last night.
Sri Lanka thumped the West Indies by nine wickets in a low-scoring match – with the help of their spinners led by Ajantha Mendis (2-12) and Mahela Jayawardene hitting an unbeaten 65 – for the second win in as many matches.
The Lions beat New Zealand in their first Super Eights match.
They must avoid defeat in their last match against England while the West Indies need to beat the Black Caps with a superior net run-rate – both matches tomorrow – to reach the last four.
In case Sri Lanka lose to England and the West Indies beat New Zealand, it will come down to net run-rate to decide the semi-finalists, with three teams on four points.
New Zealand's slim chance of reaching the semi-final – after they lost to England yesterday – hinges on Sri Lanka winning their last match and they beat the West Indies big.
Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara (39 not out) knocked off the target in just 15.2 overs, as both tamed the Windies spin attack.
"Overall it's a very good team effort," said Jayawardene. "When they were going after our bowlers I just kept changing the bowlers and it worked well."
Jayawardene's counterpart Darren Sammy said: "They bowled really well to us. We are always a boundary-hitting team but the Sri Lankan bowlers bowled fuller and we didn't do that enough. Now New Zealand game is a must-win for us."
Mendis led the Sri Lanka spin attack as West Indies found it hard to score freely in their 20 overs, managing just 129 for five.
Marlon Samuels (50) and Dwayne Bravo (40) were the main run-getters, lifting their team through a 65-run third wicket partnership after West Indies lost Chris Gayle (2) and Johnson Charles (12) at the same score of 16. Samuels hit two sixes and four boundaries during his 35-ball knock before he holed out in the last over.
Wright, who made 99 against Afghanistan in the group stages, hit five massive sixes and an equal number of boundaries and added 89 runs for the third wicket with Eoin Morgan (30) as England reached their target of 149 with seven balls to spare.
Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum, the New Zealand finger spinners, dismissed the openers cheaply to put England’s chase under pressure, but the solid partnership between Wright and Morgan shut them out of the match.
Steve Finn picked up three wickets for 16 runs as New Zealand were restricted to 148 for six after captain Ross Taylor won the toss and opted to bat first.
The left-handed James Franklin (50) hit some lusty blows towards the end of the innings to prop up New Zealand after they were reduced to 67 for four wickets at one stage. The Black Caps, who play West Indies tomorrow, are now on the brink of elimination having lost both their Super Eight matches to Sri Lanka and England.
England captain Stuart Broad expressed delight at his team’s win.
“It’s nice to bounce back [after defeat to the West Indies]. We now have a huge game on Monday,” said Broad of the game against Sri Lanka which will decide their semi-final fate.
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