Sri Lanka head into the semi-finals against West Indies, having won three of their four matches in Group 1. Here’s a look.
Beat South Africa by 5 runs: Sri Lanka kicked off their campaign with a close 5-run triumph against the Proteas. Batting first, they posted an impressive 165 for 7 courtesy opener Kushal Perera’s 61 and Angelo Mathews’ 43. South Africa got close to the target in response with their top four all crossing 20s. However, Sachithra Senanayake’s 2 for 22 and some tight bowling from Malinga, Mathews and Kulasekara saw them get home in a tense encounter.
Beat Netherlands by 9 wickets: After the high of defeating Ireland in a fantastic chase, the Dutch were given a rude reality check by the Lankans. After inserting Netherlands in, Sri Lankan bowlers dismissed them for 39 in 10.3 overs. Angelo Mathews and Ajantha Mendis finished with impressive figures of 3 for 16 and 3 for 12 respectively while Lasith Malinga chipped in with 2 for 5. Sri Lanka chased down the target without any trouble losing only one wicket in the process, that of opener Kushal Perera. They reached 40 in exactly five overs.
Lost to England by 6 wickets: The only setback for the Lankans came in the group stage came against England. Mahela Jayawardene’s 51- ball 89 and Tillakaratne DIlshan’s 55 from 47 deliveries took them to a highly competitive 189 for 4 batting first. In response, they had England reeling at 0 for 2 with Nuwan Kulasekara dismissing opener Micheal Lumb and Moeen Ali in the first over itself. However, the other opener, and T20 specialist, Alex Hales played a sensational knock to take England home with ease in the end. He cracked his maiden T20 ton, remaining unbeaten on 116 from 64 balls with 11 fours and 6 sixes. Hales was well-supported by Eoin Morgan, who contributed 57. Kulasekara starred for Sri Lanka with 4 for 32 but Ajantha Mendis was taken for 52 in his four overs.
Beat New Zealand by 59 runs: Sri Lanka booked their place in the semis with a convincing bowling effort against the Kiwis. Batting first in the crucial game, the Lankans were cleaned up for 119 with only Mahela Jayawardene and Lahiru Thirimanne getting into the 20s. Trent Boult and Jimmy Neesham picked up three wickets each for New Zealand. In response, Lanka’s bowling was fantastic. Rangana Herath, in particular, was outstanding. With figures of 5 for 3 from 3.3 overs, he blew away the Kiwis, who were clueless against his left-arm spin. Opener Kane Williamson scored 42 off the 60 runs for New Zealand even as all the others fell for single figure scores.
--By A Cricket Analyst