New Zealand vs Sri Lanka 4th ODI: Williamson’s century gives New Zealand 2-1 lead

Williamson celebrates after scoring his fifth ODI century

Williamson celebrates after scoring his fifth ODI century

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

New Zealand batsman Kane Williamson scored a superb century to not only help his side beat Sri Lanka by four wickets, but also give them a 2-1 lead in the series.

However, Sri Lanka’s batting duo of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara both deserve a lot of credit as they made 94 and 76 respectively.

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews would have been regretting his decision to bat first early on after opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne was given out lbw off the bowling of Tim Southee for five runs.

Tillakaratne Dilshan and Sangakkara made up for the early loss of Karunaratne with a 102-run partnership, during which Sangakkara brought up his half-century, before Dilshan was caught by Martin Guptill at silly mid-off off the bowling of Williamson for 44.

Sangakkara and Jayawardene kept the runs flowing with a 67-run partnership before Sangakkara was caught by Guptill at silly mid-off off the bowling of Adam Milne.

Sangakkara’s excellent knock of 76 came off 83 balls and included eight boundaries and a six.

Sangakkara scored a valiant 76

Sangakkara scored a valiant 76

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Milne struck again the very next ball when Mathews was caught behind for a golden duck.

Jayawardene and Lahiru Thirimanne stabilised the innings with a 65-run partnership, during which Jayawardene registered his half-century, before Thirimanne was clean bowled by Mitchell McClenaghan for 19.

Jayawardene went on to score 94 off 82 deliveries, which included nine boundaries and three sixes, before he was caught behind off the bowling of Corey Anderson.

Jayawardene made a gutsy 94

Jayawardene made a gutsy 94

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Following Jayawardene’s dismissal, Sri Lanka’s lower order completely collapsed as they went from 253/6 to being bowled out for 276.

Southee was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while McClenaghan and Milne snapped up two wickets apiece and Anderson and Williamson chipped in with one wicket each.

Chasing 277 to win, New Zealand got off to a terrible start as skipper Brendon McCullum was caught by Thisara Perera at mid-on off the bowling of Nuwan Kulasekara for 11.

Guptill only made 20 runs before he was caught behind off the bowling of Mathews.

Ross Taylor failed to have an impact with the bat as he was caught behind off the bowling of Rangana Herath for eight runs.

Williamson and Grant Elliott steadied the innings with an 88-run partnership, during which Williamson recorded his half-century, before Elliot was caught by Thirimanne at cover off the bowling of Jeevan Mendis for 44.

Williamson and Anderson kept New Zealand on the right track with a 79-run partnership, during which Williamson brought up his fifth ODI century, before he was clean bowled by Perera.

Williamson’s spectacular knock of 103 came off 107 balls and included six boundaries and a six.

Anderson ended up making 47 before he was run out by Dilshan.

Despite losing both Williamson and Anderson, wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi remained unfazed as he smashed an unbeaten 32 off 15 deliveries, which included one boundary and three sixes, to lead New Zealand to victory with 11 balls to spare.

Kulasekara, Mathews, Mendis, Herath and Perera claimed one wicket each.

Mathews was disappointed with his side’s performance, and said: “After the start we got, I thought the lower order batted poorly. I thought Dilshan, Sangakkara and Mahela batted beautifully. It was a very good wicket, it didn’t turn as much or slow up, but it was a good batting track. The spinners have been bowling brilliantly, especially on that wicket. They came on to bowl pretty well. We just couldn’t take wickets and strike regularly.”

McCullum was pleased to have taken a 2-1 lead in the series, and said: “Really good effort from the bowlers to give us a score under par [to chase]. Kane showed how experienced he is and how he can formulate a gameplan. Also finished off well by Corey and Ronchi. Probably a little bit more bounce here on the Oval. Pace was certainly there in comparison to last year. Really good cricket wicket and crowd. We don’t know yet about Milne (injured rib cage). The beauty of this team is that someone else will step up in case anything goes wrong. They expect us to fight hard and I will try to lead by example. Elliott had a tough time of late, but he showed strength of character and was one of the assets the selectors were keen to see. He is a great team man, and is a classy batsman at club level, and the partnership he formed with Kane was crucial to getting us into this. Kane has been wonderful and its great to see him work his magic.”

Williamson was named Man of the Match, and said: “Had a few days off which was nice. Just relaxed and caught up with friends and family. Just wanted the shoulder to heal. It was nice to get off to a reasonable start. It is always nice to bat with other blokes who are scoring freely. It was great initially with Grant, before Corey took over. To finish it off the way we did with Ronchi was just superb. I am still very much working on my bowling, and am pretty happy with how it is progressing. I don’t want to rush it and want to keep learning to bowl more and more.”

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