Sri Lanka prevail in Super Over

Pallekele (TIP): Tillakaratne Dilshan, who had scored 76 off 53 in regulation time, set himself under the ball at long-off, turning side ways to make sure he knew where the boundary cushions were – they were six inches from his toenails – and took the catch after the ball had passed his body and had almost entered the air space beyond the boundary.

Had Dilshan missed that, this Martin Guptill hit off Lasith Malinga would have left New Zealand needing two off the last ball of the Super Over.

The catch sealed Sri Lanka’s win. Such were the margins of a freak match that was tied with a freak run-out off the last ball. About 40 minutes ago, Sri Lanka were 143 for 3 after 16.3 overs, the same score that New Zealand had after 16.3.

New Zealand would have been disappointed with the 31 they got after that, considering the start given to them by Rob Nicol, in association with Guptill and Brendon McCullum.

With the ball, though, Southee and James Franklin pulled things back against the faltering hosts, who lost two batsmen to run-outs.

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Only 30 runs had come in 5.3 overs leading to that even point, which had put Sri Lanka under some pressure. Southee added to it with an over of yorkers to leave them needing 21 off the last two.

Ross Taylor risked bowling Franklin, who had helped them win a similar chase recently against India. Dilshan slog-swept the first ball for a six. On the next ball, though, he took an ill-advised second and even a desperate dive couldn’t save him.

Thisara Perera scooped Franklin for a four later in the over. At eight required from seven balls, Perera was one delivery from making Southee’s last over irrelevant, but Franklin’s slower ball arrived after he had finished his swing, and it had enough legs to tickle the bail out of its groove.

Southee went back to bowling full and straight from round the stumps. Angelo Mathews took a single first ball, and it was time for Lahiru Thirimanne to test weak hearts. The first ball he faced, Thirimanne moved well across to the off side in an attempt to beat short fine leg. Southee stayed in the block hole, and Thirimanne managed just the single.

Another yorker, another single for Mathews: five off three. Southee remained full, Thirmanne drove and was beaten. Advantage New Zealand. Thirimanne now dug Sri Lanka out of a hole he had partly dug.

Again he took the incredible risk of aiming over short fine leg, Southee missed his yorker by six inches, and Thirimanne got under it. Fists were pumped both in the middle and in the dugout as soon as the ball cleared the fielder. The best New Zealand could get now was a tie. Earlier in the afternoon, Nicol had hit debutant mystery bowler Akila Dananjaya smack on the face with a straight drive, but he and McCullum did not run off the ricochet. Would things have been different had they not been such sports? That would have been the last thing on their minds when New Zealand pulled the field in to try to save that single.

Southee surprised Thirimanne with a short ball, he bat-padded it to point, where Franklin kept a cool head and returned a gentle throw on a comfortable bounce to Taylor at the non-striker’s end. Taylor fumbled the take. He missed a dolly. Sri Lanka began to celebrate, and a disappointed Taylor shook hands with the umpires, who – just to be sure – asked for the third umpire’s help. The stumps had somehow been broken.

The replays showed the ball had hit Taylor’s hand and bounced on to the stumps. In real time it seemed as though Taylor had broken the wicket without the ball in his hands. Technology surprised everyone, and the game went into the Super Over. Southee continued his good work in the tiebreaker, but two of his yorkers were wides.

Even so, he had conceded just 10 off the first five balls, but Perera scooped the last delivery over short fine leg to register three crucial runs. Malinga, who had an average tournament until then, decided this was a moment as good as any to make an impact.

He hardly missed his length with the first four balls: two, one, two byes, one. Malinga then missed his yorker by about a foot, Guptill got under it, but this was Dilshan’s night.

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