Sri Lanka secure Super Over success
Sri Lanka were made to sweat before securing a dramatic victory over New Zealand in the first Super Eights match at the World Twenty20.
The hosts eventually prevailed in a Super Over, having failed to scramble the single required off the final ball to complete a pursuit of 175.
Lahiru Thirimanne was short of his ground at the non-striker’s end when Ross Taylor dropped James Franklin’s throw on to the stumps; several video replays were required to confirm the decision.
However, Tim Southee then conceded 13 - including two wides - in the shootout that followed, and Sri Lanka were home and dry when Martin Guptill holed out off Lasith Malinga to leave eight needed from the final ball, which irrelevantly went for four.
In regulation play, Thirimanne had earlier clipped Southee’s penultimate delivery over fine-leg for four with an audacious stroke, thereby levelling the scores after an impressive New Zealand fightback had taken things down to the wire.
Sri Lanka appeared on course to triumph comfortably when, in pursuit of 175, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene shared 80 for the first wicket in 7.2 overs.
Dilshan remained until the 19th over, but, after striking James Franklin for six to leave 15 required, he was then run out for 76 and Thisara Perera also fell before the final set of six began with Sri Lanka eight short of their target.
Rob Nicol’s powerful 58, together with useful contributions from the rest of the top four, helped the Black Caps reach 174 for seven after winning the toss.
Mystery spinner Akila Dananjaya - called into Sri Lanka’s squad after impressing Jaywardene during a net session - had marked his international bow with two wickets, although the 18-year-old also took a blow to the face when mis-fielding off his own bowling.
It was Dananjaya who made the initial breakthrough with his third delivery, having Martin Guptill caught at long-off to end an opening partnership of 57.
Brendan McCullum and Taylor maintained New Zealand’s momentum by dashing to 25 and 23 respectively, and Nicol then collected three slog-swept sixes in an over from Ajantha Mendis yielding 24, only to then fall to Dananjaya seeking to repeat the feat.
Nuwan Kulaesekara also finished with two wickets and Malinga bowled Nathan McCullum via bat and pad before Kane Williamson was run out off the final ball of the innings.
Sri Lanka raced out of the blocks in reply, reaching 68 without loss by the end of the mandatory powerplay through Dilshan’s brutality and some delightful strokeplay from Jayawardene.
At that stage, a comfortable home victory was on the cards, yet, after Jayawardene had top-edged Jacob Oram to fine-leg on 44, Sri Lanka were steadily pegged back to prompt a thrilling finale.
Dilshan cleared the ropes at deep midwicket at the start of Franklin’s last over, only to then pay the price for taking on a risky second to point.
Franklin accounted for Perera with a slower ball and Southee held his nerve at the death, before undoing his hard work with a sloppy showing in the Super Over that gave Malinga the opportunity to finally carry Sri Lanka over the line.