Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Sri Lanka opener Tillakaratne Dilshan scored a sensational century to not only help his side beat New Zealand by six wickets, but also level the series at 1-1.
However, New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum deserves a lot of credit as well as he scored a valiant 117.
McCullum would have been mulling over his decision to bat first after opening batsman Martin Guptill was caught by Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews at mid-off off the bowling of Nuwan Kulasekara for 10 runs.
Tom Latham only made five runs before he was caught behind off the bowling of Rangana Herath.
McCullum and Ross Taylor stabilised the innings with an 85-run partnership, during which McCullum brought up his fifth ODI century, before he was caught and bowled by Jeevan Mendis.
McCullum’s superb knock of 117 came off 99 balls and included 12 boundaries and five sixes.
Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Daniel Vettori made seven runs before he was run out by Mendis.
Taylor ended up scoring 34 runs before he was caught by Thisara Perera at short fine leg off the bowling of Herath.
Following Taylor’s dismissal, New Zealand’s middle and lower order completely collapsed as they went from 183/5 to being bowled out for 248.
Herath and Sachithra Senanayake picked up two wickets apiece, while Mendis and Kulasekara chipped in with one wicket each.
Chasing 249 to win, Sri Lanka got off to a brilliant start as Dilshan and Dimuth Karunaratne amassed a 64-run partnership before Karunaratne was given out lbw off the bowling of Nathan McCullum for 21.
Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara kept the runs flowing with a 52-run partnership, during which Dilshan registered his half-century, before Sangakkara was caught by Latham at deep square leg off the bowling of Adam Milne for 38.
Mahela Jayawardene made 27 runs before he was caught by Taylor at slip off the bowling of Matt Henry.
Dilshan and Mathews steadied the innings with a 74-run partnership, during which Dilshan recorded his 19th ODI century, before he was caught behind off the bowling of Henry.
Dilshan’s magnificent innings of 116 came off 127 balls and included 17 boundaries.
Mathews and Lahiru Thirimanne mopped up the rest of the runs to lead Sri Lanka to victory with 14 balls to spare.
Mathews scored 39 off 46 balls, which included five boundaries and a six, while Thirimanne remained undefeated on two.
Henry was the most successful bowler with two wickets, while Milne and McCullum claimed one wicket each.
McCullum was disappointed with his side’s performance, and said: “Four run outs is not good enough. Little bit of panic set in and [that’s] something we’ve prided on not doing too much recently. We were threatening a 300 score, but not good enough. But we just have to learn from the mistakes. It was a 290-300 wicket, some of the bowlers bowled really well and they will be better for the experience. But against a player like Dilshan in that form, it can be daunting. Everyone knows it’s tough on Henry and Neesham, but we can only have 15. But it’s a good experience and with three weeks left, they might still be included in the World Cup. Frustrating that I was dismissed before the powerplay, and not being able to set up a good total.”
Mathews was ecstatic to have levelled the series at 1-1, and said: “Pretty pleasing with the way the boys went about [their] things. They got off to a brilliant start, McCullum batted very well but our spinners pulled things back and the fielders made four run outs. Clinical work. Pitch looked slow so we brought Herath in and it worked. We need to continue in the same manner, working very hard on the fielding. Brilliant innings from Dilshan, we want one of the top four to bat through the innings.”
Dilshan was named Man of the Match, and said: “Good surface for batting, came on nicely. Really enjoyed myself, it was my home ground in 2010 when I came here. Enjoying my bowling as well, got more than 20 wickets in the last six months. Didn’t turn much, but I put the ball in the right areas and made the batsmen play.”