New Zealand v Sri Lanka, 1st T20I, Mount Maunganui January 7, 2016

New Zealand cling on for three-run win

108

New Zealand 182 for 4 (Guptill 58, Williamson 53) beat Sri Lanka 179 for 9 (Gunathilaka 46, Siriwardana 42, Boult 3-21) by three runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Watch - New Zealand beat Sri Lanka in tight finish

With overs from their frontline bowlers exhausted, New Zealand were forced to turn to Grant Elliott's gentle seamers to defend 13 runs from the last over in the first T20I against Sri Lanka in Mount Maunganui. Elliott proved himself as nerveless with ball in hand, as he had been with the bat during last year's World Cup. He took one wicket - which was followed by a run-out - and conceded only nine runs with his mixture of yorkers and slower balls. Chasing New Zealand's 182 for 4, Sri Lanka fell three short to record their sixth loss in eight matches this tour.

The road to this tight triumph had first been paved by Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson, who struck rapid half-centuries in a 101-run opening stand. Colin Munro, and then Ross Taylor hit brief but explosive innings, before New Zealand's quicks gave their side an even better start with the ball than the one with the bat. Sri Lanka's chase seemed to have run aground at 42 for 4 at the end of the fifth over, before Milinda Siriwardana and Danushka Gunathilaka resurrected it. Their 40s were ultimately futile. Matt Henry and Trent Boult took three wickets apiece before Elliott's over extinguished the resurgence.

Boult was first to strike, finding success with that line outside leg stump that has been strangely productive for New Zealand all through the tour. Tillakaratne Dilshan edged the ball behind his legs to the wicketkeeper first ball, before Shehan Jayasuriya fell in similar fashion in Boult's next over.

At the other end, Matt Henry had Dinesh Chandimal top-edging a heave across the line, and Angelo Mathews slapping uppishly to cover. Both bowlers would return to strike a further vital blow apiece in the final overs. Boult had Siriwardana caught for a typically shrewd 42 from 31 balls, at fine leg, in the 17th over. Henry had Perera holing out to long on for 28 from 19 balls. Boult's 3 for 21 earned him the Man-of-the-Match award, with Henry having been more than twice as expensive.

Ish Sodhi also played a role, delivering four overs for 33 and taking the scalp of Gunathilaka, who top-scored with 46 from 29 balls. Many of those runs had come down the ground, including two long sixes - one of which exceeded 100 metres.

Earlier, Guptill set New Zealand's innings off apace, when he cut the second ball of the day for four, then smoked one through the covers, and thumped another into the bank beyond deep midwicket to reap 14 from the first over. Sri Lanka rifled through their attack at the start, trying four different bowlers in the first four overs, but each failed to remain within the miniscule margin of error for Guptill. At the end of the fourth over New Zealand were 49 for 0. Guptill was 32 off 13.

Sri Lanka scraped through the remainder of the Powerplay by largely keeping Kane Williamson on strike, but they did quiet Guptill when the field relaxed. The leg spin of Jeffrey Vandersay was particularly effective in the middle period - his three-over spell costing only 18.

Despite this relative deceleration, New Zealand had gained enough ground in the Powerplay to cross 100 in the 11th over. Williamson was busy after Guptill had bruised Sri Lanka, slinking about the crease to find smart, square boundaries - though he was also fortunate that the inside edge that grazed his off stump in the eighth over did not dislodge the bails.

Guptill moved to fifty with a high strike over the long-on boundary, but was run out to a direct hit next over, when Williamson called him through for a tight single. Williamson himself departed after a few quieter overs, when he holed out to deep midwicket off Nuwan Kulasekara.

Vandersay removed Corey Anderson in his last over, and should have also had Munro, had the deep point fielder, Jayasuriya, held on to a straightforward catch. He and Kulasekara emerged from the death overs with credit, as Munro and Taylor struck big blows. Kulasekara's 19th over cost only five runs and he took a wicket. He finished with Sri Lanka's best figures of 2 for 26, and later threatened to play a winning hand with the bat, but was one of Elliott's victims in the final over, having hit 14 from 10.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • DudleyEastwood on January 8, 2016, 22:50 GMT

    Sri Lanka cricket is dead and buried., The big three Sanga, Mahela and Dilshan were casting a shadow on a young team for too long. Dilshan is still playing like a wet fire -cracker ; may or may not explode. He should retire from all forms of cricket immediately if he loves the country. Dudley Gunasena, Eastwood, NSW, Australia.

  • BlackCapsBestintheWorld on January 8, 2016, 21:27 GMT

    @FORGENZ Mate thats the problem. NZ settled for knocking around singles with 7-9 wickets in hand.........All the lankans need to stop complaining about malinga. Hes absolute garbage tier nowadays and we will hopefully see that in the world cup so the Lankans can shut up about them missing Malinga. Later in the year, when we beat the ozzies, they will already have an excuse. No starc = No wins. Starc can be deadly in NZ conditions

  • RIKAZHASIMDEEN61 on January 8, 2016, 10:39 GMT

    bring back dilshan munaveera

  • RohitDXB on January 8, 2016, 8:07 GMT

    Aussies need to find a way to handle Boult and tackle Williamson if they want to win it in Kiwis soil.

    Only these 2 stands tall in between to their No. 1 crown.

  • ForgeNZ on January 8, 2016, 7:12 GMT

    BlackCapsBestintheWorld glass half empty aye. 180 odd was always safe as SL have never chased that much , so to say what a horrible performance is a bit contrite. If Williamson didn't run out Guptil , NZ would have got 200+

  • Jacqueline.Fernandez on January 8, 2016, 6:48 GMT

    I am starting to see a pattern here, the moment SL loses, the number of new names you get to hear on these forums is beyond belief. To name a few, Dhananjaya De Silva, Dasun Shanaka, Lakshan Sandakan, Binura, Vishwa, Chamikara, Amila, Hashan Dumindu, Angelo Perera, Isuru Udana etc. etc. The list can run into miles. Friends, exactly how many players do you want your team to play with here? I say this because every fan here has a team of his own here. The biggest debate between them which I still dunno a solution to is whether Tharanga should play and the endless permutations of who should bat where. Havent seen this coming from a NZ fan throughout the series but every SL fan here is a selector on its own.

  • nayamrafique on January 8, 2016, 6:45 GMT

    Classy jersey. NZ really do jerseys quite well.

  • Jacqueline.Fernandez on January 8, 2016, 6:31 GMT

    I am starting to see a pattern here, the moment SL loses, the number of new names you get to hear on these forums is beyond belief. To name a few, Dhananjaya De Silva, Dasun Shanaka, Lakshan Sandakan, Binura, Vishwa, Chamikara, Amila, Hashan Dumindu, Angelo Perera, Isuru Udana etc. etc. The list can run into miles. Friends, exactly how many players do you want your team to play with here? I say this because every fan here has a team of his own here. The biggest debate between them which I still dunno a solution to is whether Tharanga should play and the endless permutations of who should bat where. Havent seen this coming from a NZ fan throughout the series but every SL fan here is a selector on its own.

  • galle61 on January 8, 2016, 6:29 GMT

    siriwardena and danushka great future.should be nurtured

  • galle61 on January 8, 2016, 6:26 GMT

    SL has great talent .need fine tuning.siriwardena should be 1 down.left handers need to come behind the ball so that they can hook and pull more.Mahroof should come.Physically you have to be strong to play unorthodox shots .So Sl should play good cricket shots