New Zealand Demolishes Sri Lanka For A 10 Wicket Victory
Kiwi pacers skittle Sri Lanka to 136 and chased down the target under 17 overs for a thumping victory. Put into bat Sri Lanka never got going as the Kiwis produced some wonderful combination of pace and swing bowling. Albeit Dimuth Karunaratne who carried his bat with a 84 ball 52, Lankan scorecard read 8 single digit score including 3 ducks. It was a cakewalk for Martin Guptill (73 off 51) and Colin Munro (58 off 47), chasing the target with strike rate in excess of 120.
It was a good toss to win for skipper Kane Williamson, with green top pitch and the overcast conditions, favorable for the kind of pace attack they have. They could not have asked for any better start to their World Cup quest with Matt Henry scalping Lahiru Thirimanne in the 2nd ball of the innings. The onus fell on Kusal Perera to forge a partnership with Karunaratne and set a big target. Both played few pleasing shots and some flew off the edge, however every boundary was welcomed. Just when the partnership seemed to build, Henry’s twin strike off the consecutive balls of the 9th over derailed Sri Lanka from which they never recovered. He lured Perera with full length ball wide of off-stump that got the toe end of the bat and into the hands of Collin de Grandhomme. The very next ball Kusal Mendis edged one to diving Guptill at the second slip.
Lockie Ferguson also came to the party in the 11th over removing Dhananjaya de Silva lbw for 4 runs. It was surprising to the senior most player Anjelo Mathews further pushed down the batting order. All Lankan hopes were pinned on him to rescue them out of the situation they were. He had done it quite a few times in the past, but it was not to happen today. Thisara Perera made some valuable 27 of 23 balls down the order. Karunaratne held his fort on one side while Sri Lanka kept on losing wickets on the other side. However 136 was never going to be a good total to defend even though Lankans had Lasith Malinga in their ranks.
The chase wasn’t as easy as it seemed at the end of the match. The Kiwi openers started slowly and cautiously. Guptill poked at the fuller ball from Malinga that didn’t carry to the second slip in the second ball of the innings. They bought their first boundary only in the last ball of the 5th over. The next over saw Munro dispatching Suranga Lakmal to a 4 and a 6 off the consecutive deliveries. The batsmen started settling down and milking runs at will, with Guptill bringing his Half Century with a 6 in the 13th over followed by Munro in the next over.
It was a clinical performance from the team that was considered a dark horse in all the major tournaments up until now. They were always expected to punch above their weight, but today they seemed to be different. It is still early in the tournament to say anything, yet they seem to have set their sight on the World Cup for sure.