Tharanga powers Sri Lanka

Islanders register a bumpy three-wicket victory over fighting New Zealand

Tharanga powers Sri Lanka

hitman: Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga (right) celebrates after dismissing New Zealand’s Gareth Hopkins on Friday. ReutersDespite not being at their disciplined best, especially with the ball, the hosts packed far too many guns for New Zealand, bringing their opponents thudding back to earth from the high of Tuesday’s 200-run drubbing of India.

Ross Taylor’s delight at winning the toss again was short-lived as New Zealand put up a patchy batting performance. Typical Kiwi resilience and a late sting in the tail boosted them from the depths of 123 for seven to a competitive 192, worth many more given that chasing under lights has always been an arduous task here.

If Sri Lanka won by only three wickets, it was because they lost wickets in a clatter in the eventually fruitless quest for victory inside 40 overs, which would have given them the bonus point. Instead, by reaching 195 for seven in 40.5 overs, they were forced to settle for only four points.

Sri Lanka had their fair share of problems straightaway, the ball snaking around, nibbling off the surface and getting big on the batsman from better than a good length. To their credit, the left-handed duo of Upul Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara tided over that initial unsettling phase, riding their luck during a crucial second-wicket stand of 85 (108b).
Once Sri Lanka knew victory was in the bag, they took the batting Power Play with 50 needed in six overs for the bonus point, but they had left themselves too much to do.

That said, it truly was top-of-the-table stuff from the two left-handers in the top-order, Sangakkara looking sublime once he got his eye in. Kyle Mills and Daryl Tuffey again made the new ball talk, but New Zealand were handicapped by the absence of the hamstrung Jacob Oram, and therefore couldn’t sustain the pressure like they did against India. Once the skipper and his deputy Mahela Jayawardene fell in quick succession, Tharanga assumed the responsibility of seeing his side home.

Mills got rid of the dangerous Tillakaratne Dilshan and always looked threatening, jagging the ball off the seam and having both Tharanga and Sangakkara in bother. Tuffey, though, erred in length often enough to be punished by Tharanga’s bruising willow as the opener hit repeatedly in the air through his favoured point region.

Sangakkara’s intelligence and cricketing nous was on view when, soon after a double bowling change, he lay into Tim Southee and Andy McKay. The not-so-subtle manner in which he transferred the pressure on to New Zealand was breathtaking to watch, Tharanga too joining his skipper in the run feast.

New Zealand’s innings had been characterised by the lack of partnerships. Despite all the grass having disappeared, there was enough help for Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara. Unsurprisingly, it was Malinga who struck first, firing out Martin Guptill in the first over. The curly-haired destroyer returned to wreak havoc with an oldish ball, but it was Angelo Mathews that broke the back of the Kiwi batting, winkling out Taylor and the hapless Kane Williamson in the same over.

Only debutant BJ Watling, composed and organised at the crease, handled Sri Lanka’s multi-faceted attack with aplomb. The little right-hander alternated between the stylish and the brutal, handling an off-colour Ajantha Mendis with great felicity. His 52-run stand with Scott Styris stabilised the innings but New Zealand’s propensity to lose wickets in pairs meant they were staring down the barrel at 123 for seven. Nathan McCullum shored up the lower order, batting with common sense. Sri Lanka went off the boil somewhat, their waning intensity allowing New Zealand to accrue useful runs towards the end, even if in the final analysis, that didn’t count for much.

Score Board

NEW ZEALAND

Watling c Sangakkara b Mathews    55
(68b, 8x4)
Guptill c Kapugedera b Malinga    0
(1b)
Taylor lbw Mathews    16
(34b, 2x4)
Williamson c S’weera b Mathews    0
(2b)
Styris c Jayawardene b Herath    24
(33b, 1x4)
Hopkins c Kapugedera b Malinga    11
(22b)
McCullum c Herath b Mendis    36
(61b, 1x6)
Tuffey b Malinga    0
(1b)
Mills c Mathews b Herath    11
(25b, 1x4)
Southee c Dilshan b Kulasekara    13
(30b)
McKay (not out)    4
(12b)
Extras (B-5, LB-4, W-10, NB-3)    22
Total (all out, 48.1 overs)    192
Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Guptill), 2-47 (Taylor), 3-47 (Williamson), 4-99
(Styris), 5-101 (Watling), 6-123 (Hopkins), 7-123 (Tuffey), 8-143
(Mills), 9-178 (McCullum).
Bowling: Malinga 10-1-35-3 (w-4, nb-3), Kulasekara 8.1-1-35-1 (w-1),
Mathews 10-1-36-3 (w-1), Mendis 10-0-42-1 (w-4), Herath 10-0-35-2.
Runs during: Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 47/1; Power Play 2: 11-15
overs: 16/1; Power Play 3 (batting): 45-49 overs: 15/2.

SRI LANKA

Tharanga c Watling b Mills    70
(108b, 9x4)
Dilshan c & b Mills    5
(9b, 1x4)
Sangakkara c Guptill b Styris    48
(63b, 5x4)
Jayawardene c Taylor b McCullum    5
(11b)
Samaraweera (not out)    36
(38b, 4x4)
Mathews c Taylor b Mills    0
(1b)
Kulasekara c Hopkins b Southee    7
(3b, 1x6)
Herath c Taylor b Mills    2
(3b)
Kapugedera (not out)    9
(9b, 1x4)
Extras (B-4, LB-1, W-8)    13
Total (for 7 wkts, 40.5 overs)    195
Fall of wickets: 1-11 (Dilshan), 2-96 (Sangakkara), 3-119
(Jayawardene), 4-162 (Tharanga), 5-164 (Mathews), 6-177 (Kulasekara),
7-180 (Herath).
Bowling: Mills 9.5-1-41-4 (w-2), Tuffey 5-0-31-0 (w-1), Southee
6-0-41-1 (w-3), McKay 4-0-26-0, McCullum 7-0-23-1, Williamson 1-0-6-0
(w-2), Styris 8-0-22-1.
Runs during: Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 44/1; PP 2: 11-15 overs: 30/0; PP 3 (batting): 35-39 overs: 42/4.

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