T20 hosts win thriller

PALLEKELE – Sri Lanka beat New Zealand in a one over eliminator after the 40-over Super Eights contest was sensationally tied at Pallekele stadium today.

With both teams inseparable on 174 runs at the end of 40 overs a “super over” round was played for the result.

Tillakaratne Dilshan’s blazing bat led Sri Lanka to victory.

New Zealand paceman Tim Southee restricted Sri Lanka to 13-1 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 fight-back.

“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.”

New Zealand owed their total to a career best fifty by opener Rob Nicol.Nicol hit Ajantha Mendis for three sixes in the 15th over during his 40-ball 58 after New Zealand won the toss and batted.

The 29-year-old, who in all hit four sixes and three boundaries, put on a brisk 57 for the opening wicket with Martin Guptill (38) and 42 for the second with Brendon McCullum (25) before he fell in the 16th over.

Nicol’s previous T20 highest was 56 against Zimbabwe at Hamilton earlier this year.

Mendis, who took 6-8 in the first round match against Zimbabwe to register the best bowling figures in all Twenty20 internationals, went for 48 runs for his only wicket in four overs, his last costing 24.

In contrast, newcomer Akila Dananjaya took 2-32. Taylor chipped in with a brisk 23.

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