Chittagong - Left-arm spin wizard Rangana Herath conjured up astonishing figures of 5-3 to help Sri Lanka demolish New Zealand by 59 runs Monday 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 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," said Malinga. "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 who played the semi-final only 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, 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 lost opener Martin Guptill (five) in the fourth over, run out in Herath's first over.
After playing four dot balls, New Zealand's most dangerous batsman Brendon McCullum jumped out off Herath and was stumped.
Herath then trapped Ross Taylor (nought) leg before and bowled Jimmy Neesham off successive deliveries to push New Zealand on the back foot.
It became 5-29 in Herath's third over when he had Luke Ronchi (two) leg before wicket to improve on his previous best figures of 3-25 in the 2012 semi-final against Pakistan in Colombo.
Fellow spinner Sachitra Senanayake took 2-3 in his three overs.
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 Netherland's 39, also against Sri Lanka here last Monday and 56 by Kenya against Afghanistan at Sharjah last year.
Earlier left-arm paceman Boult and Neesham took three wickets apiece to wreck Sri Lanka for a paltry 119 in 19.2 overs after they were sent into bat.
Left-armer Mitchell McClenaghan took 2-24.
Boult had opener Kusal Perera (16) in his first over and then dismissed Tillakaratne Dilshan (eight) and Kumar Sangakkara (four) to give New Zealand a headstart to the match.
Mahela Jayawardene, who top-scored with a 32-ball 25, added 30 for the fourth wicket with Lahiru Thirimanne (20) before the former captain was bowled round his legs in the 15th over.
Thisara Perera hit three boundaries in his 13-ball 16 before Neesham took three wickets in 14 balls to rout the pre-tournament favourites.
Sri Lanka were without their regular T20 captain Dinesh Chandimal, suspended for a slow over-rate. Malinga stepped in as skipper.
Thirimanne and Herath had replaced Chandimal and Ajantha Mendis in the team which lost to England on Thursday.
New Zealand kept faith in the same side which beat the Netherlands on Saturday.
Sri Lanka: 119 all out in 19.2 overs (Mahela Jayawardene 25; Trent Boult 3-20, Jimmy Neesham 3-22, Mitchell McClenaghan 2-24)
New Zealand: 60 in 15.3 overs (Kane Williamson 42; Rangana Herath 5-3, Suchitra Senanayake 2-3)