cricket20 :: Bold Jayasuriya knock sinks Kiwis
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Bold Jayasuriya knock sinks Kiwis

Sri Lanka underlined why they are serious contenders for the ICC World Twenty20 with a seven-wicket victory over New Zealand to finish top of Group C.

Jayasuriya tore into the Kiwis, adding 82 with Upul Tharanga (37) and 50 with Mahela Jayawardene (35 not out) before he holed out with the game nearly won.

Ross Taylor had hit 62 for New Zealand and shared fifty stands with Peter Fulton (25) and Jacob Oram (33no).

Both sides have already qualified for the Super Eight phase.

After Kiwi skipper Daniel Vettori had won the toss, Dilhara Fernando (2-30) had openers Brendon McCullum and Lou Vincent both caught in the deep, before Fulton and Taylor put on 70 for the third wicket.

When Fulton fell, the Kiwis were 95-3 in the 11th over, but soon lost Scott Styris, who fell lbw reverse-sweeping, and Craig McMillan, who was run out, cheaply as three wickets fell for seven runs.

Lasith Malinga - held back until the 13th over - eventually had Taylor caught behind after adding 51 with Oram, who stayed on to help them post what they hoped would be a defendable total, which included seven sixes.

But Tharanga and Jayasuriya set about new-ball pair Shane Bond and Chris Martin in brutal fashion, clubbing boundaries at will while the fielding restrictions were still in place.

Jayasuriya survived one golden chance on 40 when he hoisted Mark Gillespie to mid-on, and was already walking off when Bond spilled a simple chance.

Vettori's left-arm spin finally made the breakthrough in the eighth over, with Martin showing Bond how to hold an outfield catch, but by then Sri Lanka were already nearly halfway to their target.

Styris had Kumar Sangakkara (14) caught on the midwicket boundary, but Jayawardene survived an early run-out chance to join Jayasuriya in feasting on the Kiwi bowlers.

Although Jayasuriya was eventually caught by Fulton at deep midwicket to give Vettori a second wicket with seven runs still needed after a well-paced innings, Jayawardene and Chamara Silva closed out the victory with seven balls to spare.

As group stage points are not taken through to the Super Eight phase, where the fixtures are predetermined rather than dependant on where teams finish in their group, the match had no statistical bearing on the tournament whatsoever.

But Sri Lanka will be pleased to have scored another psychological blow against the team they beat in the World Cup semi-finals earlier this year.

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