Mendis leads Sri Lanka into T20 semifinals

Ajantha Mendis spun out New Zealand as Sri Lanka roared into the World Twenty20 semifinals with an emphatic 48-run win at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on Tuesday.

The mystery spinner grabbed 3-9 in three overs as the Black Caps failed miserably to chase down a target of 159 in a must-win game and were shot out for 110 in 17 overs.

Martin Guptill top-scored with 43, but New Zealand lost their last eight wickets for 46 runs after being comfortably placed at 64-2 in eight overs.

Sri Lanka topped group F with three straight wins, following their all-win record in the preliminary league, and now travel to the Oval in London for the second semifinal on Friday.

Their opponents will be either South Africa or the West Indies, depending on the result of the last Super Eights match between the Proteas and India here later on Tuesday.

Pakistan take the second spot in the group with four points, two more than New Zealand, and play the first semifinal at Trent Bridge on Thursday.

Sri Lanka’s gamble to give the second over to spinner Sanath Jayasuriya backfired as Aaron Redmond smashed the left-armer for three consecutive boundaries and a six.

Redmond, however, failed to survive Lasith Malinga’s first over, the fifth of the innings, when he misjudged a slower ball and tapped an easy catch to mid-wicket.

New Zealand moved to 64-2 when Mendis turned the game around with two wickets in four balls, having Ross Taylor stumped before bowling Scott Styris.

Another two wickets fell for as many runs when Isuru Udana bowled Jacob Oram and Jayasuriya had the dangerous Guptill caught on the square-leg fence by Angelo Mathews.

Sri Lanka continued to strike at regular intervals to wrap up the match with three overs to spare.

Earlier, Sri Lankan captain skipper Kumar Sangakkara made 35 to anchor his side to 158-5 after he won the toss and elected to bat on a good wicket.

Sangakkara put on 62 in 49 balls for the third wicket with Tillekaratne Dilshan and 50 for the fourth with former captain Mahela Jayawardene.

Dilshan hit a pugnacious 48 off 37 balls before tapping a catch to the cover fielder off New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori in the 12th over.

Vettori also removed Sangakkara in the 18th over to a catch in the deep to finish with two for 32 in his four overs.

Jayawardene remained unbeaten on 41 off 29 balls that included the only six of the innings and six fours.

Sri Lanka took a heavy toll of fast bowler Kyle Mills, who went for 41 runs in four overs.

New Zealand removed opener Jayasuriya and Chamara Silva by the fourth over to make it 25-2, before Dilshan and Sangakkara began the rescue act.—Sapa-AFP

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