Mahela Jayawardene takes Sri Lanka closer to semifinals (Lead)

June 15th, 2009 - 12:36 am ICT by IANS  

London, June 14 (IANS) Mahela Jayawardene’s gritty knock took Sri Lanka a step closer towards a World Twenty20 semifinal berth after they defeated Ireland by nine runs in a Group F Super Eights match at Lord’s here Sunday.
Man of the Match Jayawardene hit a 53-ball 78 to save Sri Lanka the blushes as they scored 144 for nine in 20 overs after opting to bat.

Ireland came close to chasing down the target as they made 135 for seven in 20 overs after skipper William Porterfield, Niall O’Brien and John Mooney made 31 runs each.

Having defeated Bangladesh to reach the Super Eights stage, the Irish were on course with Porterfield and Niall sharing a half-century opening stand.

But slowly their hopes started to fade when Niall became the third of three victims in two overs, leaving Ireland to score 54 from the final five overs with six wickets intact.

Lasith Malinga picked up two wickets in the 17th but 18 runs off Nuwan Kulasekera in the penultimate over kept Ireland in the hunt. In the final over, Ireland needed another 18 runs but Malinga was too tough for them to handle and they finished nine runs short.

Earlier, Alex Cuscak picked up 4-18 to scare Sri Lanka but former skipper Jayawarnede played a composed knock to help Sri Lanka post a challenging total on board.

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