PALLEKELE, Sri Lanka: Hosts Sri Lanka outsmarted the West Indies by nine wickets to move one step closer to a semi-final berth after winning their Super Eights group one match at Pallekele stadium last night.
Sri Lankan spinners kept the West Indian big hitters to 129-5 in 20 overs before chasing the modest target in the 16th over for the loss of only one wicket to record their second win in the round of eight teams.
Mahela Jayawardene led the Sri Lankan reply with an unbeaten 65, sharing an unbroken 108-run stand for the second wicket with Kumar Sangakkara (39 not out) after Tillakaratne Dilshan fell for 13.
Sri Lanka must avoid defeat in their last match against England while the West Indies need to beat the Black Caps with a superior net run-rate – both games here tomorrow – to reach the last four.
In case Sri Lanka lose to England and West Indies beat New Zealand – it will come down to net run-rate to decide the semi-finalists, with three teams on four points.
New Zealand’s slim chance of reaching the semi-finals hinges on Sri Lanka winning their last match and they convincingly beat the West Indies.
The West Indian bowlers failed to worry any of the two great Sri Lankan batsmen, with Jayawardene hitting 10 boundaries and a six off 49 deliveries while Sangakkara hit five boundaries during his 34-ball knock.
“Overall it was a very good team effort,” said Jayawardene. “When they were going after our bowlers I just kept changing the bowlers and it worked well to keep them down.”
Jayawardene’s counterpart Darren Sammy praised the Sri Lankan bowling, saying: “They bowled really well to us. We are always a boundary-hitting team but the Sri Lankan bowlers bowled fuller and we didn’t do that enough.
“Now the New Zealand game is a must-win for us.”
Earlier, Ajantha Mendis took 2-12 in his four overs while Jeeven Mendis claimed 1-12 as the West Indies, who won the toss and opted to bat, found it hard to score freely in their 20 overs.
Marlon Samuels (50) and Dwayne Bravo (40) were the main run-getters, lifting their team through a 65-run third wicket partnership after West Indies lost Chris Gayle (two) and Johnson Charles (12) at the same score of 16.
Samuels hit two sixes and four boundaries during his 35-ball knock before he holed out in the last over.
Mendis, who came on to bowl the fifth over of the innings, had Charles stumped off the fifth ball of the over which was a maiden.
Bravo hit four boundaries and two sixes during his 34-ball knock before he holed out to Jeevan Mendis.
Earlier, defending champions England beat New Zealand by six wickets in another group one match, to remain in contention for a semi-final place.
(Gulf Daily News Report)