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Sri Lanka's win opens up Group B
by NT Shiv Kumar
Oct 21, 2006
The Sri Lankans were back in the hunt for the semis with an emphatic 7 wicket win against the black caps.

In what was a must-win game for SL to stay alive in the reckoning, the black caps won the toss and decided to put some runs on the board first and perhaps gambled on the glue to break apart the Sri Lankan chase. Chaminda Vaas, the veteran warhorse and probably the game’s biggest unsung hero who invariably gets lost in Murali’s heroics, got the better of New Zealand’s best batsman skipper Fleming that was followed by an exhibition of mindless batting from Lou Vincent and Hamish Marshall to disrupt the progress during Powerplay.

Jayewardene couldn’t have hoped for a better setting for his spinners to tease and trap the laden footed kiwis who dug deeper holes for themselves by not playing their natural game – Nathan Astle and Jacob Oram, the two free-wheeling strokemakers, chose to be more circumspect than their defensive skills permitted. Daniel Vettori decided to take matters in his own hands and his brave slogging gave a semblance of respectability to the Kiwi total (of 166) that was still not adequate enough to test the Sri Lankans despite the potential surprise element of glue and Bond (Shane, who was fit enough to play this game)!

Jayasuriya executed a few savage upper cuts and slashes over the covers that brought back memories of a certain Saurav Ganguly who used to play the same with an ounce of languid grace and pounds of audacity, attributes that Upul Tharanga seems to posses in abundance. He is coming of age with every outing and has all the makings of a future star of Sri Lankan cricket – he has a good range of strokes, defends well and seems to have the extra time to find the gaps. He helped himself to another half century while his captain holed out just short of his fifty in a bid to up the ante, given that the net run rate factor would come into play in the event of 3 teams ending up with 2 wins apiece. So Group B is hereon poised for an exciting set of ‘must-win’ games for all the sides though my prediction of Pakistan and Sri Lanka making it to the semis remains unchanged.

Murali was declared Man of the Match for his ‘millionth’ 4-wicket haul in ODI’s and his smile said it all – glue or no glue, kiwis had no clue reading me. Jacob Oram will be the first to accept that today!

One truly hopes the much hyped ‘Pre Ashes’ confrontation at Jaipur presents us with a good Diwali game with Flintoff and Pietersen tonking Lee and Co – good luck poms, give a good fight!

 
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