New Zealand carried on their recent impressive form with another emphatic win over Sri Lanka to get their World Cup campaign off to the best possible start. The Kiwis dominated from the off against their Asian opponents, as Sri Lanka’s miserable form against the Black Caps continued.
It was the visitors Sri Lanka who won the toss and they decided to field, which possible could be argued turned out to be a very bad decision.
The co-hosts couldn’t have made a better start and the opening pair of Martin Guptil and captain Brendan McCullum cashed in on some very charitable bowling. The first wicket would actually put on 100 for the first wicket ,it actually came as a surprise when the first wicket did fall. Brendan McCullum who tore into the Sri Lankan was the first wicket to fall, the captain was caught by Jeevan Mendis off the bowling of Rangana Herath.
After the departure of their captain New Zealand’s scoring slowed dramatically at that point. Martin Guptill and the new batsmen Kane Williamson in particular were having issues with Sri Lanka’s tight bowling. The pressure further intensified when Martin Guptil, who played a brilliant anchor role to McCullum, departed for 49.
The Black caps who enjoyed a 4-2 series success before the start of the World Cup were in danger of letting a position of utter dominance slip through their fingers. A third wicket which was worth 57 looked to have rebuilt the innings – but when two wickets fell with out a run being scored, New Zealand were back under pressure.
A 65 run fifth wicket partnership allowed New Zealand to steady a rocking ship. First Grant Elliott (29 off 34 balls) and the normally attacking Luke Ronchi (29 off 32 balls) reigned in attacking instincts to allow Corey Anderson (75 off 46 balls) to go on a boundary hitting spree which included 8 fours and 2 sixes.
Those contributions allowed the Black Caps to regain a stranglehold on this match. The co-hosts ended up racking 331-6. Considering New Zealand at one stage were 193-4, you have got to say that’s a pretty decent effort.
For Sri Lanka it was definitely a case of what could have been. Lasith Malinga who has just come back from a long injury layoff understandably looked rusty and wasn’t his usual ‘slinger’ self. Malinga’s opening bowling partner Nuwan Kulasekra was just as disappointing. Such was the struggles of Sri Lanka’s opening bowling attack that nearly half of New Zealand’s runs came of Malinga and Kulasekra’s bowling.
The 1996 World champions were already up against it even before their innings commenced. One might not blame Sri Lanka for thinking “here we go again”. To the visitors credit however they did get their run chase off in solid if not spectacular style. The opening pair of Lahiru Thirimanne and Tilkeratne Dilshan went about their task well.
However when Dilshan was first out, ‘the wheels’ soon came off Sri Lanka’s already very difficult run chase – but with the next batsmen being Kumar Sangakarra, the Asian side must have felt reassured that their chase won’t falter just yet. The Sri Lankan pair of Thirmanne and Sangakarra were starting to frustrate the co hosts – but when the Sri Lankan vice captain Thirimanne was dismissed off the bowling of Trent Boult for a well played 67, many dismissed Sri Lanka’s chances.
Those sceptics were to be proved right as five more wickets fell before the score reaching 200. A valiant 46 from Angelo Matthews couldn’t save Sri Lanka – and there doomed run chase ended on 233.
A great start then from the co-hosts New Zealand who look like they have most definitely picked up from where they have left off. As for Sri Lanka its another disappointing defeat and although this defeat is disappointing it’s not ‘the end of the world’ just yet. A game Afghanistan next Saturday would be a good game for the Sri Lankan’s – but even they won’t be easy.
As for New Zealand they face Scotland in a game what could strengthen their position in the World Cup.