Ajantha Mendis hardly got a game in the IPL. Left out of most of John Buchanan’s plans, the Sri Lankan spinner was seen warming the Kolkata Knight Riders’ bench.
It, however, has been a different story in the World T20. He has had the opposition in all sorts of trouble with his unique variations. And he continued on Tuesday, picking up three Kiwi wickets in a 48-run win for Sri Lanka in their last SuperEights game.
With this win, Sangakkara’s side booked their place in the semis, with the West Indies being their likely opponents at the Oval on June 19.
Set a target of 159, New Zealand never looked like being in with a shout. Sri Lanka have one of the best attacks in the tournament, and it was the variety in their attack that stifled the Kiwi chase. New Zealand’s innings folded at 110 in the 17th over.
Riding on the back of this win against a team that was their biggest threat for a spot in the semis, Sri Lanka will be quietly confident of winning a World Cup for the first time since Lahore 2006.
Dilshan is another of the players who has reinvented himself since his IPL exploits with the Delhi Daredevils. He is steadily becoming one of the most effective and dangerous batsmen in this format, and got Lanka off to a flier here too.
Mahela Jayawardene, on the other hand, is not your quintessential T20 batsman. More in the classical mould, the former Lanka skipper is often underrated in the shortest version.
On Tuesday, though, he showed just how good players can adapt themselves to every situation, playing some of the most outrageous shots, including one of the back of his bat, in his 29-ball 41. Though Martin Guptill tried his best to get New Zealand to victory, his 43 wasn’t enough.
Sri Lanka: Dilshan c Brendon McCullum b Vettori 48, Jayasuriya c Taylor b Nathan McCullum 0, Silva c Oram b Mills 13, Sangakkara c Styris b Vettori 35, Jayawardene not out 41 Mubarak lbw b Butler 8, Mathews 6no
Extras: (1nb, 4w, 1lb, 1w) 7
Total: (for five wkts in 20 ovrs) 158
Fall of wickets: 1-3, 2-25, 3-87, 4-137, 5-147.
Bowling: N. McCullum 4-0-22-1, K. Mills 4-0-41-1, J. Oram 4-0-23-0, I. Butler 3-0-29-1, D. Vettori 4-0-32-2, S. Styris 1-0-9-0.
New Zealand: McCullum c Mubarak b Udana 10, Redmond c Silva b Malinga 23, Guptil c Mathews b Jayasuriya 43, Taylor st Sangakkara b Mendis 8, Styris b Mendis 2, Oram b Udana 7, McGlashan c Mubarak b Mendis 2, McCullum run out 2, Vettori c Malinga b Muralitharan 3, Mills run out 4, Butler 2no
Extras: (1lb, 3w) 4
Total (all out in 17 ovrs) 110
Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-39, 3-64, 4-66, 5-93, 6-95, 7-98, 8-100, 9-102.
Bowling: I. Udana 3-0-17-2, S. Jayasuriya 3-0-28-1, M. Muralitharan 4-0-18-1, L. Malinga 3-0-26-1, A. Mendis 3-0-9-3, T. Dilshan 1-0-11-0