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Sri Lanka survives Irish scare

SRI Lanka repulsed a gallant challenge from Ireland at Lord's yesterday to win its Twenty20 World Cup Super 8 match by nine runs.

Ireland, the only non-test playing nation still in the tournament, restricted the 1996 world one-day champion to 144 for nine after Sri Lanka had won the toss and elected to bat.

The Irish reached 87 for one in pursuit before Sri Lanka's potent bowling trio of Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis took control. Mystery spinner Mendis dismissed the O'Brien brothers Niall and Kevin in the same over and Malinga bowled Trent Johnston and Andre Botha with successive yorkers.

Ireland needed 18 from the final over but it was always too high a target against the pace of Malinga.

The Irish surpassed themselves in the field at the home of cricket after looking no more than a club side against New Zealand in their opening Super 8 game.

Man-of-the-match Mahela Jayawardene, with 78 from 53 deliveries and the only six of the innings, stroked the ball sweetly but only two other batsmen reached double figures.

Wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien gave a splendid performance with three catches and a swift stumping off Australian-born medium-pacer Alex Cusack, who took four wickets from nine deliveries.

On Saturday, Umar Gul confirmed his right to stand among the Pakistan pace bowling greats with the first five-wicket haul by any bowler in a Twenty20 international.

Gul, 25, captured five for six from three overs as Pakistan thrashed New Zealand by six wickets in its Super 8 match and was denied a fourth over and the chance for more wickets when the Kiwis were all out for 99. It was the lowest score of the tournament from a test playing nation after South Africa bowled England out for 111 at Trent Bridge on Thursday.

Pakistan knocked off the runs from 13.1 overs, completing a miserable day for New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori who was making his first appearance of the tournament after a shoulder injury.

Gul now owns three of the best top 10 analyses in Twenty20 version of the game to go with his 76 wickets at 31.34 from 18 tests.

New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori said Saturday's match was the first time he had witnessed reverse swing in a Twenty20 match.

"I have never seen anybody reverse the ball after 12 overs," Vettori told a news conference. "I don't know of anybody in Twenty20 cricket who has made the ball reverse."

Pakistan introduced reverse swing to test cricket through Sarfraz Nawaz and Imran Khan in the 1970s and early 1980s. It has now been copied throughout the world and was instrumental in England's 2005 Ashes triumph over Australia.


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