Sri Lanka clinch Super Over thriller

New Zealand

The Super Eights stage of the World Twenty20 enjoyed an engrossing start in Pallekele on Thursday, when Sri Lanka secured a Super Over victory against New Zealand after the initial 40 overs saw the scores tied.

The Super Eights stage of the World Twenty20 enjoyed an engrossing start in Pallekele, where Sri Lanka secured a Super Over victory against New Zealand after the initial 40 overs saw the scores tied.

Sri Lanka batsman Lahiru Thirimanne failed to secure the one run needed for victory off the final ball of the fixture proper, with New Zealand captain Ross Taylor's fortunate fumble – from hand, to knee, to wicket – enough to force a run-out – and push the fixture into the eliminator.

New Zealand's choice of seamer Tim Southee, as their bowler for the Super Over, didn't see their faith repaid, with the seamer coughing up a two wides and conceding 13 runs in total. Sri Lanka were spot on in assigning pace ace Lasith Malinga for the Kiwis' six-ball reply, which brought a mere seven runs.

After a largely one-sided group stage, which saw the minnows flatter to deceive and the big guns advance, Thursday witnessed a very tight affair, boding well for the remainder of the competition.

The Black Caps' decision to bat first amounted to an iffy 174 for seven, with the nature of the total initially considered substandard on a pitch that proved fast, fluid and primed for batting.

A nifty 58 and 38 from openers Rob Nicol and Martin Guptill promised more, but the middle order lost their way – Jacob Oram and Nathan McCullum's promotion above James Franklin and Kane Williamson failed.

Debutant 18-year-old spinner Akila Dananjaya proved the pick of the bowlers, snaring figures of two for 32, which included the key dismissal of Guptill with just his third ball in international cricket.

Sri Lanka's day in the field was far from blemish-free, with Dananjaya dropping a sharp chance off his own bowling, copping a painful blow to the face in the process, and Thisara Perera grassing an opportunity at mid-on. Malinga, roaming the boundaries, meanwhile, was the recipient of a slew of misfields.

The hosts' reply cherished a cavalier start, with the first wicket producing 80 runs in two more deliveries than seven overs, as captain Mahela Jayawardene and sidekick Tillakaratne Dilshan took the attack to the opposition seamers.

The introduction of Daniel Vettori and fellow spinner Nathan McCullum's swift recovery from an expensive opening over, however, strangled the middle overs of the Sri Lankan chase. Seamer James Franklin, uncharacteristically afforded a full complement of four overs, proved a successful complementary force to the slow bowlers.

Dilshan knock of 76 was the mainstay of the pursuit, and his ability to last the distance was always going to keep Sri Lanka in the hunt, particularly after he heaved the tournament's 100th six over midwicket to keep the asking rate in check.

The oft-underrated Franklin, though, removed Dilshan and the dangerous Thisara Perera in the same over, with Southee left to defend eight runs six balls. He did so, in nail-biting fashion, allowing for just seven.

Thursday's result served a timely reminder to fellow Group 1 competitors England and the West Indies that, perhaps, theirs isnt' the easier of the two Super Eights two halves after all.

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