Lot of fun and joy - Ronchi
The game-changing 267-run stand that sent records tumbling was born of enjoyment and good vibes, protagonists Luke Ronchi and Grant Elliott said, after the pair was instrumental in earning New Zealand a 3-1 lead in the series against Sri Lanka. The team was on track for a mediocre score, at 93 for 5, when the pair came together, but they both scored quickly, then began to launch a sustained attack that transformed the outlook of the innings.
Ronchi hit his maiden international ton and finished on 170 not out from 99 balls, while Elliott scored his second ODI ton, to remain unbeaten on 104 from 96.
"It was really fun to be out there with Ronchs. I was sitting at the non-striker's trying to get the strike off him, but I couldn't - he kept hitting fours and sixes all the time," Elliott said. "I really enjoyed watching his innings, and it was great to have a fellow Wellingtonian there to celebrate the hundred with me, and also to celebrate his first hundred."
Ronchi said the pair did not put pressure on themselves, despite the dire match situation when they came together. That manifested in a faster scoring rate than is common in such a situation, and an eventual total that was highly unlikely to be reeled in.
"When we first started the innings we thought we'd just bat for a while and get through that little period when the ball was still doing a bit," Ronchi said. "After that we were pretty relaxed about the whole situation and enjoyed the position we were in. Both of us were scoring quite freely and getting what we wanted out of the bowlers.
"You start playing shots and things happen without you even thinking of it, and then you know you're flowing nicely and in the zone. We were both definitely in that zone at some stage and continued on. It was a lot of fun in the whole situation. There was a lot of joy in getting the hundred and pushing on and winning."
Elliott was the more measured of the two batsmen, often choosing to rotate the strike, rather than match Ronchi stroke for stroke. He has played in a similar vein for New Zealand in the past, and suggested he would continue to shelve his more aggressive domestic avatar away in national colours, at least until the last few overs of the innings.
"I think I was very fortunate with the way Ronchs was playing. I could just stay on my end and push ones and get us into a good position. That's my role - to build a foundation from where we can strike. We were fortunate enough to get into a position when we could say: 'Let's both have a go now.' Ronchs was having a go from ball one anyway.
"I've been playing a different sort of role for Wellington, where I come in at the end and give it a whack. It seems like whenever I play for the Black Caps, my role is to come in and rotate the strike and strike as close to a 100 as I can, especially if we've lost three quick ones. In Nelson I probably gave it away, but I was there for the fun bit today with Ronchs at the end, and that's where you want to be. Hitting a few boundaries was satisfying."
The unbeaten stand was a world record for the sixth wicket, and second highest for any wicket for New Zealand. Elliott said it was precisely the collective focus on the needs of the team, rather than personal milestones, that has allowed New Zealand to make such major strides in their cricket.
"We didn't even know what the world record is," he said. "I thought I was on 98 when Luke came to me and told me I only needed a single to get a hundred. I think that that's an indication of what the team environment is like. It's not about the milestones for individuals out there. It's about getting as many runs as we can get as a team. At the end of it, we've got some accolades which is great. We'll share some beers tonight and look at the world record - whatever it may be, and be pretty proud that it's contributed to a win."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando