There was a sense of a tournament beginning at last. Twelve matches had already been played in the World Twenty20 but yesterday in the first of the Super Eight stage, it had the close contest it needed.
It took a one-over eliminator, a so-called "super over", to separate Sri Lanka and New Zealand after their original match finished in an excruciating tie. Thus it became a TwentyOne21 kind of match. To the delight of a packed house, Sri Lanka prevailed by scoring 13 runs to their opponents' eight. But it could have gone either way at that stage. With two balls, left Martin Guptill went for the six which would have left only two needed under regulations from the last ball. He was caught at long off by Tillekeratne Dilshan running backwards and to his right. It made the final delivery academic.
It was a wonderfully exciting finish to the match and if the crowd was thrilled the tournament organisers were relieved. The fourth version of the competition can go places now.
The first 40 overs of the match were hugely entertaining. New Zealand were rousing in the first 10 overs with Rob Nicol making 58 from 40 balls. But their early enterprise was stalled in the last five overs.
Sri Lanka should have cruised to victory. Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardena helped them charge to 103 for 1 after 10 overs. But they slowed up perilously and still needed seven to win off the final over.
When Lahiru Thirimanne hit the penultimate ball for four by lifting it over long leg, the scores were level. The last ball went to the off side and as the batsmen dashed for a single, the ball was thrown to the bowler's end.
Ross Taylor, New Zealand's captain, dropped it and appeared to concede the match. But a five-minute examination of replays showed the ball had removed the bail on its way to the ground. The super over was invoked.
Results and fixtures
Group E (both Pallekele):
SL 174-6 [Dilshan 76] tied with NZ 174-7 [Nicol 58]. SL won super over.
WI 179-5 [Charles 84] bt Eng 164-4 [Morgan 71*, Hales 68] by 15 runs.
Group F (both Colombo)
Pakistan v South Africa (11am BST)
Australia v India (3pm)