New Zealand v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Christchurch December 26, 2015

Henry, top order hand Sri Lanka drubbing

New Zealand 191 for 3 (Guptill 79, McCullum 55) beat Sri Lanka 188 (Siriwardana 66, Kulasekara 58, Henry 4-49, Bracewell 3-37) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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New Zealand chase down target with 174 balls remaining

Sri Lanka would have thought of turning their fortunes around in the ODIs after losing both the Tests and would have banked on the absence of New Zealand's pace spearheads Tim Southee and Trent Boult. To add to that, Kane Williamson was ruled out of the first ODI with a knee niggle. But Matt Henry reduced the visitors to 27 for 5, and even though they went on to post 188, their hopes of defending it were quashed by a merciless opening stand of 108 in 10.1 overs between Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill. New Zealand chased it down easily thereafter, in 21 overs, despite losing the openers and Tom Latham.

It was Henry's opening spell of 7-1-26-4 that threw Sri Lanka off track after they opted to bat, before fifties from Milinda Siriwardana and Nuwan Kulasekara pushed the score past 150 but they were eventually bowled out in 47 overs. Henry finished with 4 for 49 and Doug Bracewell's 3 for 37 put the brakes on Sri Lanka's late charge, before the hosts' top order led them to their seventh win against Sri Lanka from their nine ODIs played in the last 12 months.

Milne started with a dangerous combination of precision and pace, regularly clocking in more than 145kmh, and had Danushka Gunathilaka caught behind in the third over even though New Zealand had to use a review after the umpire failed to pick the outside edge. And once Tillakaratne Dilshan top-edged Henry to midwicket, the pacer took three more in seven deliveries. Thirimanne's slow start ended when Henry swung the ball in to trap him lbw. He then pitched the next ball shorter and extracted Mathew's outside edge with some outswing to second slip where Tom Latham took a low catch.

With only four more runs added to the score, Henry also made Dinesh Chandimal poke outside off for another catch to the slip cordon and Sri Lanka had lost half their side. To avoid a complete collapse, Siriwardana pulled things back with the lower order. He first found a useful partner in Chamara Kapugedera for more than half an hour to score 38 runs together. Kapugedera defended patiently for most of his 24-ball stay before he gave a straightforward catch to cover.

Kulasekara and Siriwardana combined at 65 for 6 to stage a comeback with the biggest partnership of the innings - 98 runs. As the balls became older, the duo hardly faced any troubles in rotating the strike and Siriwardana was also helped by debutant Henry Nicholls, who dropped the left-handed batsman on 10 at deep midwicket.

Kulasekara displayed his intent to gather boundaries right from the start. He dispatched Milne in the 23rd over for a six to the midwicket boundary and hammered more boundaries whenever opportunities arose. A slog-sweep against Mitchell Santner and a cover drive drilled in consecutive overs frustrated New Zealand further.

Siriwardana, playing his ninth ODI, collected quick runs by using the pull effectively and also unfurled some crunchy cover drives during his career-best score to marshall the stand and the innings. Kulasekara nearly caught up with Siriwardana by bringing up his fourth ODI fifty with his fourth six but both batsmen were dismissed soon after in quick succession. Once Siriwardana was removed by Bracewell, Kulasekara edged one off Mitchell McClenaghan for Luke Ronchi to complete a stunning one-handed catch. The last-wicket pair of Suranga Lakmal and Dushmantha Chameera vexed the hosts a little more before Bracewell struck again.

McCullum and Guptill went about the chase in usual fashion - attack irrespective of the opposition and target. They stamped their authority by smashing nine runs from the first over and wreaked havoc to cross 100 before the first Powerplay could end. McCullum made room consistently to bludgeon drives and unleash his trademark short-arm pulls, while Guptill relied more on drives and timing, instead of brute force. They punished the bowlers the most from the fourth to ninth overs by hammering 80 runs with the help of 11 fours and four sixes, with no bias to any particular part of the ground.

Mathews brought himself on in the seventh over and McCullum pulled him for six first ball. Ajantha Mendis came on for the next over and McCullum dispatched three more fours to complete his 23-ball fifty. Guptill also awakened his force in the next over; he came out of the crease for a consecutive four and six against Siriwardana. McCullum eventually fell to a leading edge skied to backward point but that could only delay the result, not change it.

Guptill also brought up his 39-ball fifty and accumulated another 22 runs only in boundaries before holing out to long-off, only four balls after Latham was bowled for 18. With only 25 more needed, Nicholls scored 23 on his home ground and finished things off with back-to-back fours.

Vishal Dikshit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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