Vettori shines to put Kiwis in final

New Zealand 156-8 Sri Lanka 147 New Zealand win by 9 runs
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The Independent Online

The batsmen once more appeared horribly run-shy in the increasingly embarrassing triangular series as New Zealand scrambled to a nine-run victory over Sri Lanka here yesterday that secures them a place in the final.

It was the fifth successive low-scoring match in a series which also involves Pakistan and so far has been demonstrably short of runs, boasting just one fifty in 10 innings.

However, New Zealand's captain, Stephen Fleming, blamed the wickets for the low scores rather than the batsmen. "The pitch was rubbish," he said. "Teams should be getting more than 150 or 160 runs."

New Zealand were asked to bat yesterday and were restricted to 156, with wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum top-scoring with 47. However, it proved adequate as New Zealand's spinner Daniel Vettori took a career-best 4 for 14 as the hosts were rolled over for 147.

Sri Lanka's off-spinner, Muttiah Muralitharan, and Sanath Jayasuriya's left-arm spin, did the main damage to the New Zealand innings, both claiming two wickets. Fleming was out lbw to Muralitharan for 16 in his 200th one-day international. The hosts were also particularly sharp in the field with three run-outs, those of Lou Vincent, Chris Harris and Andre Adams.

However, in response, only Mahela Jayawardene showed any application for Sri Lanka, top-scoring with a patient 38 off 102 balls.

Sri Lanka, who have won all the limited-overs competitions they have hosted since July 1998, could miss the final if Pakistan beat New Zealand on Tuesday.