West Indies upstage champions England while Sri Lanka prevail in Super Over against New Zealand.
Thrillers to start Super Eights stage in World Twenty20
PALLEKELE // The West Indies edged out champions England by 15 runs in an exciting finish to the World Twenty20 Super Eight group one league match at the Pallekele stadium.
Chasing a daunting 180-run target, England came close with Eoin Morgan (71 not out) and Alex Hales (68) putting on a resolute 107-run partnership for the third wicket but in the end they fell short.
England had lost Craig Kieswetter and Luke Wright for first over ducks but Hales, who hit five boundaries and two sixes off his 51 balls, and Morgan's 36-ball knock, with five sixes and four boundaries, defied West Indies's four-pronged spin attack.
England needed 125 runs in their last 10 overs but Morgan and Hales paced the innings well before Marlon Samuels bowled an excellent last over, conceding only eight runs.
West Indian captain Darren Sammy said spinners made the win possible. "We backed ourselves to set a target and the openers got us going well," said Sammy.
"With (Sunil) Narine, Samuel, Chris (Gayle), we decided to maximise our spinners against England and it worked out."
England captain Stuart Broad was left disappointed. "We had to regroup, obviously losing two wickets in that first over hurt us but we showed how good the wicket was. We were quite happy with our effort with the ball and I think we're disappointed not to win tonight," said Broad.
West Indies were set on their way for a big total by openers Johnson Charles and Gayle. Man of the match Charles smashed three sixes and 10 well-timed boundaries in his 56-ball 84 while Gayle hit four sixes and six fours in his 35-ball 58.
West Indies had raced to 103 by the 11th over when Gayle was finally out, caught by Steven Finn at long-on off as the left-hander tried to hit Graeme Swann out of the ground.
Earlier Sri Lanka beat New Zealand in a sensational Super Over finish after both teams were tied in the 40-over contest.
With both teams inseparable on 174 runs, a "super over" round was played for the result.
New Zealand paceman Tim Southee restricted Sri Lanka to 13 for one but Lasith Malinga managed better, finishing the New Zealand innings five short of his team's total.
It was the seventh tied match in all Twenty20 cricket, with New Zealand involved in four of them.
Tillakaratne Dilshan (76) had put Sri Lanka on course for a successful run chase before New Zealand pulled back through some accurate bowling and fielding.
Sri Lanka were in a spot of bother when they lost Kumar Sangakkara (21) and Jeevan Mendis (eight) in quick succession, needing 38 from the last four overs.
With Sri Lanka needing 21 off the final two overs, Dilshan hit James Franklin for a six off the first ball before he was run out off the next, leaving Sri Lanka to make 15 off the final 10 deliveries.
It boiled down to eight off the final over. Lahiru Thirimanne hit a boundary off Southee's penultimate delivery but was run out off the final ball, luckily for New Zealand the ball hitting the stumps after coming off Ross Taylor's knee.
Dilshan hit three sixes and five boundaries during his 53-ball knock.
Mahela Jayawardene, who scored 44 in the match, showed delight at the win.
"It's nice to have a win under your belt so the pressure eases down," said the Sri Lankan captain. "Judging by Taylor's reaction on the last ball we thought we had won but it needed a super over."
Taylor said he was proud of his team's fightback.
"To lose tight matches is always disappointing," said Taylor. "But from the situation we were in I thought we fought back very hard and never gave up. I am proud of my team."
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