Sri Lanka, West Indies eye semi-finals

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Sri Lanka and the West Indies eyed up semi-final places after hard-fought wins in group one of the Super Eights, with the hosts needing a dramatic one over eliminator for victory. With the scores level at 174, Sri Lanka needed one run off paceman Tim Southee’s last ball but Lahiru Thirimanne failed to reach the crease after attempting a sharp single.
New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor had deflected the ball from his knee to the stumps after fumbling the throw, which took television umpire Steve Davis of Australia several minutes to rule the batsman out. Chasing 175 to win, Sri Lanka were well on course for a comfortable win but Tillakaratne Dilshan’s run out after scoring a brilliant 76 helped New Zealand tie the regular match. Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene admitted that the tense finale had been “chaotic”.
“We were looking at Ross’s reaction. He wasn’t that enthusiastic about the run out so we thought we had scraped through. It was chaos down there,” said Jayawardene.
“To be in a situation where you think you’ve won and then go back and play was tough but we kept our composure and made sure that we played some smart cricket,” said Jayawardene, whose team scored 13 to New Zealand’s eight in the Super Over. Jayawardene, whose team next faces the West Indies here on Saturday, hopes to carry on the momentum from the victory over the Black Caps. “When you are leading a team in a pressure situation and a crunch game like this, points on the board are very important. We can surely build on this,” he said. Sri Lanka have not won a major trophy since their 1996 World Cup win in the sub-continent. They were runners-up in the 2007 and 2011 World Cup (50 overs) and lost to Pakistan in the 2009 World Twenty20. West Indies, who gained two crucial points by outsmarting title-holders England by 15 runs, are also looking for a first major trophy in eight years.

Unsung Charles enjoys the Gayle effect

West Indies’ surprise hero Johnson Charles said Friday he was indebted to Chris Gayle for easing the pressure during his match-winning knock against England at the World Twenty20. The little-known opener top-scored with a brisk 84 and added 103 for the first wicket with Gayle to set up his team’s 15-run victory in their opening Group one Super Eights match in Pallekele on Thursday. Gayle cracked four sixes and six boundaries in his explosive 35-ball 58 as the West Indies posted 179-5 before restricting England to 164-4 despite Eoin Morgan’s unbeaten 71 off 36 balls. “If you’re batting with Chris Gayle you know his ability, you know what he can do. You just have to give him the strike, sit back and watch,” Charles, 23, said in a West Indies Cricket Board statement. “He’s that type of player, he just explodes. He keeps it lively, and that takes the pressure off you. Just as Gayle can hit the ball far, I back myself to be able to hit the ball long and far and score quickly as well.” Charles hammered three sixes and 10 fours in his 56-ball knock, his best in international limited-overs matches. “Once he (Gayle) got out I had to take the leading role and take it from there,” said Charles, who has so far played just eight one-day and nine Twenty20 internationals. “There was still some work to do as we were looking for a big total, so I knew I had to keep going and set the platform. I will look to build on this start and look to achieve greater things for the West Indies.”