Kumar's At Number Two
Kumar Sangakkara saw Sri Lanka to a six-wicket win over New Zealand that takes them to second place in the Super Eight table.
Sri Lanka coasted to a six-wicket victory over New Zealand to move level on points with their opponents at the top of the World Cup Super Eight table.
The Kiwis, who began their fourth second-stage match with one of only two 100% records, failed to post a par total despite Scott Styris' fourth one-day international hundred.
Sri Lanka then sauntered past 219 for seven with almost five overs to spare at Queen's Park, to put themselves alongside New Zealand and Australia in the front rank of the race for a semi-final place.
Even with Styris' unbeaten 111, the Kiwis fell well short of expectations – undermined by three top-order wickets for Chaminda Vaas and three more for Muttiah Muralitharan.
A 65-ball half-century from Sanath Jayasuriya (64) in a 100-run second-wicket stand with Kumar Sangakkara (69 not out) then set Sri Lanka on their way – although the tempo of the victory was short of the net run rate required to go above the table-toppers.
New Zealand, meanwhile, missed out on the victory they needed to equal their best ever ODI run of 10 wins in succession.
They did not help themselves by putting down a series of half-chances when the ball was still new enough to cash in on early inroads.
Jayasuriya clipped a delivery from Mark Gillespie through Stephen Fleming's outstretched left hand at midwicket when he had made 30, and Sangakkara had a similar let-off on nine thanks to Craig McMillan at mid-on from the bowling of Shane Bond.
Sri Lanka lost opener Upul Tharanga to a fine catch by Bond from an uppercut off James Franklin to deep third-man, the fielder backtracking after initially coming in a little too far off the rope.
But Jayasuriya and Sangakkara were largely untroubled to stay well ahead of the game until the former under-edged a cut behind to Brendon McCullum, standing up to Jacob Oram's medium-pace.
Mahela Jayawardene was annoyed when he pulled Daniel Vettori tamely to midwicket to give the slow left-armer his 200th wicket at this level, and Chamara Silva donated another by giving Bond some catching practice at long-off.
But Sangakkara closed out the match with a half-century which took 86 balls and contained just one four, as he milked ones and twos to a largely defensive field.
New Zealand's total owed what substance it had to the hard-working Styris – who came in at four for two in the third over and stayed till the end.
His personal haul was a 152-ball century, brought up with his seventh boundary – the previous six all came in his first 50 – after Fleming had chosen to bat first on a good surface.
The Kiwis were in trouble by the fifth ball of the match when the captain went for a duck, lbw pushing forward defensively to Vaas' full-length swing.
Ross Taylor also made nought, in his first appearance since the group stages of this competition because of a hamstring injury.
The number three nicked Vaas behind, where Sangakkara changed direction to take an outstanding one-handed catch – diving to his right.
Peter Fulton and Styris could take no chances – and the Kiwis' mainstay needed 20 balls before opening his account with a memorable back-foot drive for four off Vaas.
Styris was way short of his ground on eight when Muralitharan's throw from mid-on missed the stumps.
But Fulton got too much on a pick-up shot and holed out at deep square-leg to give Vaas (three for 33) his third wicket, at the start of his second spell.
By then, Styris had escaped when the ball appeared to shave the shoulder of his bat as he attempted a paddle-sweep at Vaas – and Sangakkara somehow clung on to the mere half-chance. Umpire Billy Doctrove, however, was unable to detect the faintest of contacts.
Murali (three for 32) soon got rid of McMillan, via a faulty sweep into the hands of short fine-leg – leaving Styris and Oram with much work to do.
They accomplished some of it before Oram fell to a steepling catch, well-taken at long-on by Maharoof off Tillakaratne Dilshan.
That was the first of three wickets to fall for 14 runs in three overs, delaying whatever plans Styris had for a punishing late push.
After McCullum had gone lbw pushing forward to Murali and Vettori swept aerially to deep square-leg, Styris managed to add an unbroken 64 with Franklin in the last 10 overs.
But it was not enough to test Sri Lanka, or keep Australia off the top of the table.
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