New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Champions Trophy, Group A, Cardiff June 9, 2013

New Zealand survive Malinga magic in thriller

250

New Zealand 139 for 9 (N McCullum 32, Malinga 4-34) beat Sri Lanka 138 (Sangakkara 68, McClenaghan 4-43, Mills 2-14) by 1 wicket
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Tim Southee and Mitchell McClenaghan smiled the last smiles © AFP

Lasith Malinga took the 22 yards out of the equation in a low-scoring thriller, but New Zealand survived him to register their first win over Sri Lanka in four years. The pitch has hardly ever mattered less. It was flat, the sun was out, the ball was not swinging, but Malinga's dipping slower full tosses had New Zealand batsmen hopping and hoping in what was expected to be an afternoon stroll. Nathan McCullum, first, and then Tim Southee batted with just the maturity New Zealand desperately needed to see them through with one wicket in hand.

The chase swung dramatically. From coasting at 48 for 1 New Zealand stumbled to 49 for 4. From 70 for 4 they fell to 80 for 6, but then, crucially, they were allowed to get away with a relatively quieter phase when Malinga was taken off and brought back only after brothers McCullum had taken off 31 off the requirement. Malinga came back and seemed like he could strike with every ball, but Sri Lanka will be left asking themselves - especially because Malinga brought them so close - if they had kept Malinga's four overs back for too long.

DRS, or the way it was used by the sides, made its presence felt too. Kane Williamson wasted New Zealand's review by asking for a replay when he was caught dead plumb by a thigh-high dipping full toss. Daniel Vettori later copped a rough one when he had hit another similar full toss into his pad. Sri Lanka had exhausted theirs early in the innings, and had to do with two not-outs towards the end that they could have got overturned on replay.

Amid loud unending appeals almost every ball, it was supreme drama with the balls remaining taken out of the equation: New Zealand still won with 13.3 overs to spare and took a bigger net-run-rate boost than England did in their facile win over Australia.

Going by how they went either side of the lunch break - their chase began early because they had bowled Sri Lanka out in 2 hours and 55 minutes - New Zealand should have finished it much earlier. It was all going swimmingly for them until Malinga got Williamson in the eighth over. In the next couple of overs, Rangana Herath and Shaminda Eranga - preferred to Sachithra Senanayake and Nuwan Kulasekara - struck. Herath trapped Ross Taylor with one that went on with the arm, and Eranga got one to bounce from short of a length outside off, taking the edge from Martin Guptill, who had raced away to 25 from 24.

Still it should have been easy for New Zealand, but they fumbled further to spin. Tillakaratne Dilshan and Herath almost cut out all singles, and Dilshan got James Franklin with the right-arm spinner's version of the earlier Taylor dismissal. Sri Lanka were now sensing room for a miracle here, and brought Malinga back for his sixth over. On cue he struck, but Vettori could not get the obvious howler overturned because his team-mate had earlier challenged a call he was merely not sure about.

Strangely, though, Malinga was taken off immediately after he took Vettori's wicket. When he was brought back, New Zealand had reached 111 for 6, needing only a further 28. Both Brendon McCullum and Nathan McCullum had been allowed to take the singles, and they did so. The period did involve a thin edge from N McCullum in the 28th over when the score read 100, but only the keeper heard it. Even the bowler Eranga hardly appealed. Did the excessive appealing leading up to that - Sri Lanka had been spoken to at the end of the 21st over - have any part to play in that decision? We will never know.

It is credit to Malinga's genius, though, that he came back and immediately took B McCullum out with another one of his loopy, alarmingly dipping full tosses. B McCullum played all across it, and the ball reached the off stump on a half-volley. New Zealand now needed 24 runs with three wickets in hand. Quite clearly, it was Malinga v New Zealand, and you wonder if it would have been different if it had been 44 runs to play with, and not 24.

Malinga, however, kept producing the magic. In his next over, he took out the other McCullum, who had wizened up to the slower ball, with a quick inswinging yorker. New Zealand still had 17 to get, and Malinga had 2.4 overs to go. The next four balls were a slower yorker, a quick yorker, a slower length ball, and another slower yorker, all on target. This was insanely good bowling, and Tim Southee and Kyle Mills somehow survived. As they did the next over, from Herath.

Malinga now had 12 balls to bowl, and 11 runs to defend. He began the 34th over with a quick inswinging length ball, which was only clipping leg, and the umpire Bruce Oxenford ruled not out. He had ruled N McCullum out on a similar delivery, and under DRS both decisions stand. However, the next one would have been changed by DRS. It hit Southee on the toe plumb in front, went to the third-man boundary for four, but Tucker called it runs. It was a huge moment in the game. Not only did New Zealand not lose Southee, the target was now down to eight.

Much chatter went on. The players had to be separated at the end of the over. Southee was not losing his cool, though. The same couldn't be said of Mills. Southee dug one out towards mid-on in the next over, and took the fielder on. Thisara Perera missed the stumps at the non-striker's end narrowly, but he was lucky the ball went to hit the other set of stumps. Mills, though, was not desperate to make it, and was caught short. New Zealand still needed five, and Malinga had one over to go.

For once, Malinga made a mistake. He began his final over with an attempted yorker that went down the leg side. Southee cautiously played out the rest of the over. Don't bother about whether the No. 11 will be on strike for the next over. Just see Malinga off.

Sri Lanka now made another interesting choice. Dilshan was given the ball. You could see why. Mitchell McClenaghan, a left-hand batsman, was on strike. He could get the lbw with the straighter one, or a bat-pad catch. But forget short leg for the inside edge, there was no man catching for Southee. And New Zealand needed only four. They were granted two easy singles, followed by a wide down the leg side, which also went for a bye. McLenaghan was nearly run out taking the second because they were not sure of the wide, but the end finally was a little insipid.

There was nothing insipid about New Zealand's effort in the field. Sri Lanka had gone with just three strike bowlers, but New Zealand replaced the injured allrounder, Gran Elliot, with a bowler, Vettori. You can imagine a few captains sitting back and allowing easy singles once the early wickets were taken, but there were no soft partnerships here. If you wanted to score runs, you either played exceptional shots or took risks. The risks brought New Zealand timely wickets.

It all began when B McCullum went parallel to the ground at second slip to send back Kusal Perera with the first ball of the match. All other New Zealand signs were there. Mills struck his usual early blows, Vettori - the first spinner to bowl inside the mandatory Powerplay in this tournament - took a wicket in his first ODI over since the 2011 World Cup, and McClenaghan kept cutting partnerships short. McCullum chipped in too, there was a run-out, and Sri Lanka were bowled out in the 38th over.

Kumar Sangakkara was one of three batsmen to reach double figures, but the only one to go past 20. He looked a cut above every other batsman on the day, but looking for quick runs he sliced an N McCullum offbreak to backward point. Sangakkara knew knocking around wouldn't help, and had been taking risks for a while now. This one didn't come off, though. As didn't the move to bowl Dilshan without wicket-taking intent in what proved to be the final over of the match.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jmcilhinney on June 11, 2013, 6:57 GMT

    @Gagg on (June 11, 2013, 6:36 GMT), for all we know Vettori could have been out the very next ball. For all we know NZ could have collapsed even worse if Vettori had got out later. It's pure speculation to say that NZ would have done better had Vettori not been given out. Kane Williamson was as out as I've ever seen anyone be and he used up NZ's only referral. If NZ had a second referral, who's to say that Taylor or Franklin wouldn't have used that up too and Vettori still would have been out of luck. It is the fault of Williamson and Guptill that Vettori was out. They are the two who decided to waste NZ's referral on a decision that it's hard to believe that anyone could think was not out.

  • StevieS on June 11, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    yorkslanka I agree with you as it wouldn't have come down so close with Vetorri stearing them home.

  • dummy4fb on June 10, 2013, 23:20 GMT

    NZ Team should be....

    Rutherford Guptil Williamson Taylor McCullum Ronchi(wkt) N McCullum Vettorri Southee Mills McClennaghan

    Ronchi has looked out of his depth at the top of the order and would be best to offer power to the lower order. plus the fact that specialist openers should be facing the two new balls in ODI cricket. Rutherford also offers a left hand option to complement Guptil's right hand batting. If Ronchi doesnt make runs McCullum may have to think about taking back the wicket keeping gloves and play another specialist batsman. (except colin munro) who looks a notch short of international class.

  • Thar1ndu on June 10, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    I think Chandimal Should bat at No.3 long term . look at his average(50+) and strike rate (80.0+) in at no3. He scored 2 ODI centuries at no.3. He is best man to take that place after sanga.He has fine technique and good stroke play. He ccan hit the ball very hard and can build an innings. Chandimal is better than thirimmane in that position(No3). Last time he played in England and hit a century on batting second at no.03.(105*) He is not capable in at no 4/5.I don't know why chandimal not bat at no.03

    Thirimanne must be long term no.04.He is a defensive player than chandimal. He is very capable to bat at no.04

    Kusal must be long term opener. But he must bat at no.06 only for this tournament.Jayawardena scored 144 in last tour of england as an opener. He must open with dilshan to win those next games.

    My team for next Game 1.Jayawardena 2.Dilshan 3.Chandimal 4.Sanga(Wk) 5.Thirimanne 6.Kusal 7.Matthews(Cpt) 8.Thisara/Dilhara 9.Kulasekara/Eranga 10.Hearth 11.Malinga

    Good luck SL!

  • yorkslanka on June 10, 2013, 16:45 GMT

    Referrals should be increased to two per innings per team. The ICC has lost the plot with all these silly rule changes,power plays are ridiculously complicated and why have two bouncers per over/ two new balls?what next,blindfold the batsman???

  • Sinhaya on June 10, 2013, 16:13 GMT

    @Narbavi, so if you are saying that Vettori was given not out and then Southee would not have batted is wrong. So after Brendon McCullum was out, Nathan would have come indeed and please dont forget the reprieve Nathan got when he was given not out for caught behind when out. Seriously why did Williamson use the review for what looked clearly out? He should have been advised not to use it up like how Sanga told Mahela not to review his LBW. So the fact is that umpiring last night was very bad. ICC should make it 2 incorrect referrals in ODIs.

  • TrueLankan on June 10, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    Can someone please tell Matthews to pick his game up in all areas. He is worthless to the team at the moment. Why on Earth did he give the ball to Dilshan instead of Eranga in the last over. At least hand over the captaincy to Chandimal. Those who were arguing about the umpires must realize that Vettori also got an incorrect call. Use your review wisely. Also why is Thirrimanne down so low. He is ineffective when batting that low. Use him as an opener or at no.3 (after Sanga retires) or not at all.

  • Tal_Botvinnik on June 10, 2013, 14:03 GMT

    Don't worry people, SL always loses practice matches and intial matches, later he become unbeatable(until the final) like CB series, T20 cup, pak series win,etc. Kusal,Chandimal and Mathews failed to day but thats how legends like sanga,mahela,amla,devilliers,sanath,sachin...etc started.

  • cruisy on June 10, 2013, 13:40 GMT

    Re the last ball of the match - can someone be kind enough to tell me if McCleneghan "was" run out (hypothetically speaking) going for the 2nd wide (unbeknownst to him at the time that it was called a wide (and thus there was an additional run)) would have he been officially out on the scorecard - even though NZ still won? ie the official scoreboard would have said 139 (all out) as opposed to 140/9? Hope that makes sense.... Thanks

  • shortsillypoint on June 10, 2013, 13:27 GMT

    An exciting match that both sides could have won right till the end. Luck plays some part, like when Mills was run out with a fluke throw. SL appealed until the umpires were tired of it. If there had been 50 reviews it would not have been enough. Both sides knew there was one only review meant for howlers like Vettori's but chose to waste them! Two more games left so no need to cry!