After Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to field, Martin Guptill and Colin Munro walked in to bat with the hope of carrying on their good form at the top of the order. But were both dismissed early by Lasith Malinga. Guptill was caught at gully by Kusal Mendis trying to push a ball that was outside off-stump, while Munro chopped the ball onto his stumps after making a quick-fire 21 off 14 balls.
With New Zealand’s two key batsmen – Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor – at the crease in the fifth over, the Black Caps started to build their innings. Taylor played the aggressor and Williamson held fort at the other end, as the duo brought up their 50 partnership in the 16th over.
Ross Taylor was in the mood for another big score, and batted cleverly, waiting for the loose balls and not being in a rush to accelerate the scoring. The Sri Lankan bowlers grew weary and the boundaries came naturally as Taylor brought up his sixth consecutive half century, with the partnership crossing 100 shortly after the 22nd over.
Lakshan Sandakan then dismissed Williamson to finally break the partnership, much to Sri Lanka’s relief, the New Zealand skipper caught by Dhananjaya de Silva after attempting a slog sweep.
But with Taylor approaching his century and Henry Nicholls walking in to carry on from where Williamson left, the dismissal had no impact on the home side’s run-rate. The new partnership crossed fifty while the score crossed 200 in the 35th over.
Taylor soon brought up his third century in the last eight innings to continue a terrific run of form. A six off the pads over mid-wicket to Malinga’s bowling summed up his purple patch. He continued to send the Sri Lankan fielders on a leather hunt till the 47th over when he was finally dismissed, trying to hit Malinga for a fifth six, but caught by de Silva in the process.
The baton was passed to Henry Nicholls, who brought up a century of his own right before the 48th over, scoring three fours and a six off Nuwan Pradeep in the last over to remain unbeaten on 124 off 80 balls, hitting an astonishing 12 fours and three sixes through the course of the innings. The hosts ended on 364-4 in front of a delighted crowd at the Saxton Oval.
Sri Lanka knew there was only one way they could start their innings if they were to have any hope of chasing down the total. Dhananjaya de Silva and Niroshan Dickwella started positively hitting a flurry of boundaries and the fifty partnership was brought up swiftly in the seventh over.
Southee, however, struck in the ninth over and trapped de Silva right in front of the stumps for 36. At 66 for 1, the pair of Kusal Perera and Dickwella tried to carry the momentum of the first eight overs. But Neeshan soon dismissed Dickwella for 46 as he was caught at third-man by Lockie Ferguson trying to swing hard at the ball. Kusal Mendis was then run-out without facing a ball, third-umpire Richard Illingworth deciding on a close call.
The slump continued with Dasun Sandakan the next to walk to the pavilion, missing Ish Sodhi’s straight delivery altogether while attempting a sweep and being trapped in front of the stumps. It was now up to the Perera pair of Kusal and Thisara to save Sri Lanka’s innings with the score reading 117-4.
But Kusal Perera, who had done well to set a base of 43 up until this point was adjudged caught behind off the bowling of Lockie Ferguson, and wasted a review in the process too as the ball was shown to have clearly touched his bat.
At 143-5 in 23 overs, it was always going to be tough for Sri Lanka to make a comeback into the match. Thisara Perera tried hard to keep the innings alive, and scored at a brisk pace despite surviving a couple scares in the field. But his luck ran out soon, Martin Guptill finally clinging on to a catch in the field, Perera finally departing for 80 off 63 balls.
His innings went in vain, with the visitors unable to hold the innings together after Perera’s dismissal. From 244-6 in the 39th over, Sri Lanka were all out for 249 in the 42nd over. Ish Sodhi picked up the last two wickets, while Lockie Ferguson finished with figures of 8-0-40-4.
Sri Lanka will now take on New Zealand in the one-off T20I on Friday.
Dhananjaya de SilvaHenry NichollsKane Williamsonlakshan sandakanLasith MalingaLockie FergusonMartin GuptillNew Zealand vs Sri Lankaniroshan dickwellaross taylorThisara Perera
First Published: January 8, 2019, 11:28 AM IST