Super Sri Lanka in World Cup final | Pakistan Today

Super Sri Lanka in World Cup final

COLOMBO – Sri Lanka overcame a serious bout of the jitters to book their place in Saturday’s World Cup final in Mumbai, as New Zealand bowed out in the last four for the sixth time in ten campaigns, though with their pride fully intact after another fabulous never-say-die performance in Colombo.
In a strange amalgam of the one-sided thrashing that Sri Lanka handed out to England in their quarter-final on Saturday, and New Zealand’s last-eight fightback against South Africa in Dhaka, the favourites duly progressed, and by a seemingly comfortable five-wicket margin. However, the closing stages were fraught in the extreme as a raucous home crowd was forced to postpone a party that had been in full swing for more than three-quarters of the contest.
Defending a mediocre total of 217 after a spirited batting effort had unravelled in a clatter of late wickets, New Zealand’s lust for a scrap kicked in with a vengeance just when it seemed the match was finally out of their reach. In hindsight, the Kiwis will look back on the closing stages of their own innings with regret, for a late collapse of 5 for 13, including 4 for 4 in 12 balls, undermined much of the good work they had put into the early part of their innings.
The bed-rock was provided by Scott Styris, a centurion against Sri Lanka in the 2007 World Cup, who ground out a responsible 57 from 76 balls. But when he was extracted lbw by the final delivery that Muttiah Muralitharan will ever bowl on home soil, Sri Lanka responded euphorically to scythe through the tail and leave seven precious deliveries unused.
Whether a 240 target would have made any difference will remain a matter for conjecture. Though they fared better than any other team in the tournament so far in taking 41 runs off Sri Lanka’s bowlers in the batting Powerplay, they were ultimately undone by the depth and variety of their attack, with Lasith Malinga’s yorkers scalping three key wickets at critical moments.
Too many of New Zealand’s batsmen made starts without going on. Martin Guptill flicked Malinga’s fifth delivery through midwicket in a 65-ball 39, only for Malinga to york him superbly when he returned for his second spell, while Brendon McCullum slog-swept Rangana Herath for six, only to be bowled for 13 playing the exact same stroke.
Taylor, whose ferocious hitting could have been so valuable at the death, launched a Mendis long-hop straight to deep midwicket just when he looked ready to build on his 36 from 55 balls. But as Vettori takes his leave of the New Zealand captaincy, he can reflect on yet another campaign in which his team rose to the challenge of the big event in precisely the manner that too many of their supposed betters – namely England and South Africa – consistently fail to do.
Sangakkara and his men, meanwhile, march on to their second final in consecutive World Cups, where Muralitharan – his broken body notwithstanding – will attempt to complete his career on the highest high imaginable.



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