CHITTAGONG: Left-arm spin wizard Rangana Herath has conjured up astonishing figures of 3-5 to help Sri Lanka demolish New Zealand by 59 runs in the race for the World Twenty20 semi-finals.
The spinner rocked New Zealand, chasing a modest 120-run total, in his 3.3 destructive overs to bowl them out for 60 in 15.3 overs in Chittagong – the Black Caps' lowest total in T20s.
The victory gave the 2012 runners-up their fourth successive semi-final place. They play the winners of Tuesday's game in group two between defending champions the West Indies and Pakistan. The first semi-final will be in Dhaka on Thursday.
The 2007 champions India take on South Africa in the second semi on Friday, with the final to be played in Dhaka on Sunday.
Stand-in captain Lasith Malinga hailed Herath.
"I trusted my spinners and Herath was unbelievable," Malinga said. "We were waiting for an occasion like this and we pulled through. Rangana was waiting for his chance and he proved himself really well."
It was fourth time unlucky for New Zealand, whose only semi-final appearance was in the inaugural edition of the World Twenty20 in 2007.
Skipper Brendon McCullum rued their batting failure.
"We knew there was a lot of hard work to go," he said.
"It was a bit drier than we expected and Herath and Sachitra [Senanayake], the way they bowled was outstanding."
Just when they needed some sensible batting to overhaul a paltry total, New Zealand performed in a dismal manner with opener Kane Williamson the only man to reach double figures with 42.
He was the eighth man out and with Corey Anderson unable to bat due to a finger injury sustained while fielding, Herath wrapped up the match with Trent Boult's wicket.
New Zealand's previous lowest Twenty20 total of 80 came against Pakistan at Auckland two years ago. It also becomes the third lowest total ever in all T20s, behind the Netherlands' 39.