ICL: Indian Cricket League

World Cup : Sri Lanka vs New Zealand Semi Final Review

Written by Commoner on April 26th, 2007   (565 views)

Steve Waugh labeled South Africa as chokers due to their historic inability to perform in the crunch matches. Perhaps out of sheer compassion, he didn’t put the tag to his neighbors, who have managed to not to go farther than the semi finals of world cup, now five times.

The semi final of this world cup between Lankans and Black Caps was a total domination story by Sri Lanka. It was a perfect example of team effort, starting from their skipper, who led heroically from the front. Mahela Jayawardena along with his opener Upul Tharanga and and star bowler Muttiah Muralitharan clinched a memorable and formidable victory. Especially Mahela did with his 115-runs innings what Aravinda De Silva did in 1996 with his 66 runs.

Though the master blaster veteran Sanath Jayasuriya bowled out very early by James Franklin, giving creeps to Lankan fans, Kumara Sangakkara’s nightmare also continued in this world cup. But then, Mahela Jayawardene and Upul Tharanga crafted their innings like a gem. They played it to the perfection. They showed every possible class in their batting. Their aggression, defense, calculation, pitch reading, runs management, running between the wickets and selection of shots was nothing less than a wonder.

Their cause was helped by the un-disciplined bowling and sloppy fielding by New Zealanders. 9 wides and 5 no balls tells it all. Lots of missed run out chances, dropped catches and mis fieldings deteriorated the Kiwi cause more. 
To add insult to injury, Mahela didn’t give any respite to them. He capitalized on evey possible opportunity. Tharanga, who proved his selection over Marvan Atapattu, cruised easily to 50 from 51 balls, and managed to score 73 before he got the ultimate punishment from Vettori for his shuffling.

But Tom Moody’s outlook shone brightly in Mahela. He built the castle of Srilankan batting with the solid bricks of partnerships, almost with all the batters, the most notables were for the fourth wicket and 81 for the fifth. In his 115 runs haul he hit 3 mega sixers and 10 sublime fours and the striking rate was sizzling 105. Chamara Silva(21), Dilshan(30) and Russell Arnold(14) supported their captain respectfully and made the 289 final score possible.

The depressing and gloomy body language was more prominent in Kiwi batting. It was as they had mentally admitted the fact that they could never go beyond semi finals. Stephen Fleming was first to go when Lasith Malinga trapped him on legs right in the front of stumps. Very soon, Ross Taylor followed the suit and was hunted down by Chaminda Vaas.

Peter Fulton with his fighting 46 and Scott Styris with his cruising 37 on just 36 balls which included 3 sixes and 2 4’s, tried to save their sinking ship in vain. Jayasuriya got Fulton and Styris was hammered down by Dilshan. Then it was a brutal massacre by Muralitharan. Jacob Oram and McCullum, Vettori and Shane Bond all ran out of stadium to save their brains from Murali’s magic, without contributing much to the score. All Kiwi team could manage to product was a meager 208 runs.

The triumph with 81-runs margin  will boost Sri Lankan’s confidence to no end. It was all became possible because their captain took the onus and saw it all through till the end. Mahela’s mettle has enabled Srilanka to reach the final but also has provided the likes of Jayasuriya, Sangakkara and others to come and join the party and join the ranks of Australia and West Indies to win the world cup more than once.

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