Sri Lanka enters semi-finals with 100 percent record; West Indies qualifies too as defending champion crashes out
Sri Lanka romped into the semi-finals of the ICC World Twenty20 2012 when it handed England a convincing 19-run defeat at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium. In the process, England was knocked out of the tournament, with West Indies being the other team from Group 1 to make it to the final four.
The game began in eventful fashion, with Kumar Sangakkara leading Sri Lanka, despite Mahela Jayawardena and Angelo Mathews being in the playing XI that took on England. While the reasons for this were not officially made clear – it is the prerogative of a team to name anyone as captain for a particular game – it was speculated that this was done in order to shield Jayawardena from a possible suspension, in case his team did not bowl their overs on time.
While that situation is likely to be clarified in due course, it took nothing away from the dramatic cricket that Sri Lanka played on the day. Stuart Broad put Sri Lanka in to bat and the fireworks began immediately.
Jayawardena and Dilshan attacked anything that was loose, with Jade Dernbach suffering at the hands of both batsmen. When Dernbach was a touch short, Jayawardena went deep into his crease in a flash and sent the ball high and wide over long-on. Dilshan, not one to be left behind, went in the opposite direction, upper-cutting a wide one to perfection over the head of a desperate third-man fielder.
England’s fortunes improved when Dilshan played down the wrong line to a Steven Finn delivery that nipped back a touch and was adjudged lbw. Jayawardena then took over the scoring, and although the pace was not frenetic, it was enough to take Sri Lanka to 74 in the start of the 11th over, when the next wicket fell.
After Jayawardena departed on 42, a succession of batsmen got starts, without going on to make it count. Jeeven Mendis was as enterprising as ever, bustling the ball into the gaps for hard-run ones and twos while keeping an eye out for the big shot. Angelo Mathews spent some quality time out in the middle for his 28, and even when Mendis was dismissed for 18, Sri Lanka was well on its way to a competent total.
Thisara Perera provided the final push, smacking 26 off only 16 balls and Sri Lanka ended on a healthy 169 for six from its 20 overs. England, who had to bat last on a dry pitch, had its task cut out, and could not afford to ignore the large looming threat of three spinners coming at it.
But, even before the slow men could get into the game, Lasith Malinga blew it wide open, claiming three England wickets in his first over of the day. Luke Wright slashed hard to be well caught at point, Jonny Bairstow skewed one straight up in the air and Alex Hales was trapped in front by a slower ball.
Although Malinga did not get a hat-trick, his wickets coming off the third, fifth and sixth balls of the over, the damage was done.
With the bulk of the batting accounted for, and the scoreboard reading 18 for three, England had a mountain to climb. Even with Samit Patel, batting at No. 4 and blunting Sri Lanka’s spinners, there was too much to do. Patel played some excellent shots inside out over the covers, but the fall of wickets at the other end meant that the gap between the runs needed and balls in hand widened with every passing over.
In the end, Patel (67) became Malinga’s fifth wicket, and only helped reduce the margin of defeat to 19 runs. Malinga, with five for 31, was the obvious choice for the Man of the Match award.