Sri Lanka vs New Zealand 2nd T20: Perera and Dilshan seal series for Sri Lanka

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Perera hammered a quickfire 57

Sri Lanka’s opening pair of Kusal Perera and Tillakaratne Dilshan both scored half-centuries as the Lankan Lions cruised past New Zealand by eight wickets to win the two-match Twenty20 series 1-0.

Perera and Dilshan were well supported by the entire Sri Lankan bowling attack.

Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal won the toss and elected to bowl first.

His decision paid off almost immediately as opening batsman Hamish Rutherford was caught behind off the bowling of Nuwan Kulasekara for just three runs.

Neil Broom was the next to go as he got a top edge off a bouncer from Angelo Mathew, which landed safely in the hands of Ajantha Mendis.

Anton Devcich was able to amass 30 runs before he hit a delivery from Mendis straight up in the air, which was initially dropped by Kusal Perera, but Kulasekara was right there to complete the rebound catch.

Things went from bad to worse for New Zealand as Tom Latham was caught by Dilshan at backward point off the bowling of debutant Ramith Rambukwella.

Colin Munro only managed to score 17 runs before being caught by Kulasekara at third man off the bowling of Thisara Perera.

Nathan McCullum and Luke Rochi steadied the innings with a quickfire 45-run partnership, which came at a run rate of 9.31, before McCullum was run out for 26 off 16 balls, which included three boundaries.

Rob Nicol only lasted two deliveries before being given out lbw off the bowling of Lasith Malinga.

Thanks to Ronchi’s brilliant unbeaten knock of 34 from 25 balls, which included three boundaries and a six, New Zealand were able to post a respectable score of 142 at the end of their 20 overs.

Malinga, Kulasekara, Mathews, Rambukwella, Mendis and Perera all snapped up one wicket apiece.

Chasing 143 to win the series, Sri Lanka got off to a terrible start as opening batsman Mahela Jayawardene was given out lbw off the bowling of Mitchell McClenaghan for only three runs.

Dilshan and Kusal Perera made up for the early loss of Jayawardene with an incredible 96-run partnership, during which Perera brought up his half-century, before being caught and bowled by Nicol for 57 off just 37 deliveries, which included six boundaries and two sixes.

From this point on, it was all Sri Lanka as Dilshan registered his half-century and was well supported by Kumar Sangakkara.

The pair encountered no problems as they led Sri Lanka across the finish line with more than two overs to spare.

Dilshan finished on 59 off 49 balls, which included eight boundaries, while Sangakkara remained undefeated on 20 off 17 deliveries, which included one boundary.

McClenaghan and Nicol were the only two bowlers to pick up a wicket.

New Zealand skipper Kyle Mills was disappointed to have lost the game, and said: “In all the three facets of the game we were pretty poor: we didn’t get any partnerships and we fielded poorly. Some of the guys performed well on these two tours (Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) so we are pretty happy with that, it’s given us a bit of confidence.”

Chandimal was all smiles as he approached the podium and praised his team for a job well done.

“We left no stone unturned to win this game,” he said. “Credit goes to all the bowlers for the way they performed and then Kusal and Dilshan batted really well to take the game away. Thanks to the crowd for coming and supporting us. We are keeping our fingers crossed for the next series.”

Kusal Perera was named Man of the Match for his outstanding knock of 57.

“My normal game is attacking the ball and I capitalised on the right balls,” he said.

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