Skipper Kumar Sangakkara hit 35 to anchor Sri Lanka to 158-5 against New Zealand in a must-win Super Eights match of the World Twenty20 at Trent Bridge on Tuesday.
Sangakkara put on 62 in 49 balls for the third wicket with Tillekaratne Dilshan and 50 for the fourth with Mahela Jayawardene after he won the toss and elected to bat on a good wicket.
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.
The winner of the match will join Pakistan in the semifinals.
Sri Lanka have four points from two games against New Zealand’s two, but the Kiwis enjoy a superior net run-rate.
If Sri Lanka win, they will top the group with six points, leaving Pakistan in second place with four points.
A New Zealand win will leave all three teams on four points each, but Pakistan are safe since they have the best net run-rate in the group, which also featured minnows Ireland.
New Zealand removed opener Sanath Jayasuriya and Chamara Silva by the fourth over to make it 25-2, before Dilshan and Sangakkara began the rescue act.
”It was a good start, there was turn and bounce,” said Kiwi spinner Nathan McCullum.
”We are reasonably happy with that. It’s not a massive total, it’s about par, it should be a good challenge.” — Sapa-AFP