Dilshan inspires Sri Lanka to victory
Tillakaratne Dilshan held his nerve for Sri Lanka to score a brillant 96 not out to set up a Twenty20 World Cup final against Pakistan on Sunday at Lords.
The Sri Lankan juggernaut crushed West Indies by 57 runs in Friday's lop-sided semifinal to set up a summit clash with Pakistan in the final of the Twenty20 World Cup at Lord's on Sunday.
Put into bat, run-machine Tillakaratne Dilshan hit a sublime unbeaten 96 to help the Lankans overcome a mid-innings collapse and post 158 for five. And when they returned to defend the total, Angelo Mathews sent down a sensational first over, claiming three crucial wickets, and West Indies could never really recover from the setbacks.
For them, Chris Gayle (63 not out off 50 balls) waged a lonely battle but none of his teammates could manage double digit score as West Indies eventually folded for 101 in 17.4 overs.
Opening the attack for Sri Lanka, Mathews emerged as the man with the golden arm with every second ball of his first over managing a deflection before crashing into the stumps.
Xavier Marshall's tentative bottom edge brought his peril, Lendl Simmons lost his leg stump after the ball had clipped his thigh pad and Dwayne Bravo became the third scoreless batsman, caught in two minds whether to play or leave before dragging it onto his stumps.
The long and the short of it was that West Indies had to pay with three top order wickets for their first run.
Gayle realised the futility of pottering around and came down hard on Lasith Malinga, hitting him for two fours before treating Mathews the same way.
In between, Isuru Udana was tonked over long on ropes but for the West Indies, the writing was clear on the wall when Ajantha Mendis trapped Shivnarine Chanderpaul (7) and his spin mentor Muttiah Muralitharan (3/29) removed Ramnaresh Sarwan (5) and Kieron Pollard (3).
Earlier, run-machine Dilshan prolonged his purple patch with a sublime unbeaten 96 as Sri Lanka overcame a mid-innings collapse to post 158 for five.
Dilshan's unbeaten 57-ball knock, bejewelled with two sixes and 12 fours, was the cornerstone of the Lankan innings as the right-hander went on to eclipse Jacques Kallis as the leading scorer in the tournament.
Dilshan's knock was not only the highest individual score of the tournament but also the highest by a Lankan in a Twenty20 International.
Incidentally with the ball not exactly coming to the bat as they would have liked, Sri Lanka had a rather quiet start after West Indies captain Chris Gayle put them in.
Sanath Jayasuriya (24) struggled to time the ball and Dilshan, clearly the more fluent of the duo, did not get enough strike.
Jayasuriya hit Darren Sammy and Suleiman Benn for boundaries but still could not find the meat of the bat and even changing the willow did not help.
Dilshan, however, looked in silken touch and could not be stymied. He tickled a Jerome Taylor delivery over the wicket-keeper for a four and paddled the next one, a low full toss, for a stunning six to break free.
Dwayne Bravo did not go unscathed either as Dilshan hit him for three fours in the same over.
He edged Chris Gayle for a four and followed it up with a more convincing shot, a slog-sweep to send the ball into the stands behind the mid-wicket region.
Sri Lanka had cruised to 73 runs in 10-odd overs without a setback when Bravo triggered a batting collapse that left the Lankans reeling at 77 for three.
Jayasuriya hit Bravo's third ball of the over straight to Taylor and two balls later, Kieron Pollard took a blinder to return the scoreless Kumar Sangakkara.
Pollard then returned to remove Mahela Jayawardene (2) and suddenly Sri Lanka found themselves staring at abyss.
Not that it had much of an effect on Dilshan who hit Bravo for three fours on the trot.
Chamara Silva (11) and Jehan Mubarak (7) could not shine but Angelo Matthews (12 not out off 4 balls) made his presence count as the Lankans crossed the 150-mark quite comfortably.