Sri Lankans end gallant Irish charge

MUCH-FANCIED Sri Lanka took another leap towards the World Twenty20 semi-finals but were given the fright of their lives by plucky Ireland at Lord&rsquo;s.<br /><br />The Irish were thrashed by 83 runs by New Zealand on Friday and many believed the in-form Sri Lankans would inflict similar damage.<br /><br />But seamer Alex Cusack returned excellent figures of 4-18 to restrict Sri Lanka to just 144-9 from their 20 overs, despite a fantastic 78no from Mahela Jayawardene.<br /><br />Will Porterfield and Niall O&rsquo;Brien then put on 59 for the first wicket to really put the skids up the Sri Lankans, but two wickets apiece from pace man Lasith Malinga (2-19) and unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis (2-22) limited the Irish to 135-7 &ndash; nine runs short.<br /><br />The result sees Kumar Sangakkara&rsquo;s men top the Group F table, but Ireland&rsquo;s brave race is run.<br /><br />They do, however, still have a major say in the semi-final line-up as they take on Pakistan in their final match at The Oval today &ndash; a match which could determine who plays the winner of today&rsquo;s England v West Indies clash in the last four.<br /><br />Sri Lanka take on New Zealand in the deciding match tomorrow.