Pushing a batsman back with a bouncer then nailing him with a yorker has been a fast-bowling strategy for many decades, but Mitchell McClenaghan ended up being struck for two fours attempting that most reliable of tricks. His first four balls of the match were dots, then banged in the fifth one for Mahela Jayawardene to climb into an upper cut, which flew over the slips. The next one was full and fast and was punched crisply to the cover fence.
A nervy runner at the best of times, Angelo Mathews knocked a ball into the leg-side in-field in the 23rd over and took off immediately, adamant there was a run. Jayawardene disagreed, however, given the man swooping on the ball was Brendon McCullum. Mathews was a third of the way down the pitch when he registered that Jayawardene was sending him back, but slipped and fell in his haste to change direction. McCullum had pulled off the perfect pick-up-and-throw from short midwicket though, and Mathews was still on his knees when the bails were whipped off.
McCullum had terrorised a Sri Lankan offspinner at Hagley Oval as recently as last month, and when he began to wallop another today, the match was at risk of ending quickly. He slammed Sachithra Senanayake over wide long-off as soon as he came into the attack, and the first ball of the bowler's second over went even further, over long-on. Undaunted, though, Senanayake kept flighting the ball, and extracted enough turn from the pitch to beat an advancing McCullum, leaving Kumar Sangakkara with a simple stumping.
Sri Lanka had dropped several simple chances in the Test series, but the arrival of their most prolific catcher and best fielder for the ODIs, prompted some improvement. Kane Williamson had been Sri Lanka's chief tormentor in the Tests, and it took a special catch from Jayawardene to dismiss him in this match. From around the wicket, Senanayake pushed a ball across the right-hander, who got an edge to it, and though Jayawardene was unsighted by both Williamson and wicketkeeper, he dived low to his left to collect the ball on the third juggle.