The new-ball bowlers bowled canny spells to set the game up, and despite a swashbuckling 62 from Ross Taylor, it was Sri Lanka that romped to an seven-wicket victory at the Wanderers to maintain their perfect record in the competition, and illustrate just why they are so highly favoured to go all the way. Once again, it was Sanath Jayasuriya that blazed the trail with a punishing 44-ball 61, and there was a delightful cameo of 37 at the end from Mahela Jayawardene as New Zealand were contemptuously swept aside.
Their poor outing was encapsulated by Shane Bond, who was clattered for 45 from his four overs while also dropping Jayasuriya off successive balls, the second a sitter at mid-on when he had made 40. Upul Tharanga contributed a sparkling 37 as the match was effectively sealed within the first seven overs of the Lankan innings.
Jayasuriya got off the mark with a streaky four down to third man off Bond, but there was nothing fortuitous about strokes that raced to the rope at backward point, square leg and long-off. Bond had a wretched outing against Sri Lanka in the World Cup semi-final at Sabina Park and it was reprised here with Tharanga carving him through cover and then top-edging a six over fine leg.
There was also an astonishing flat-batted six over cover off Chris Martin and a rude welcome for Mark Gillespie, who followed figures of 4 for 7 against Kenya with an opening over that went for 20 as Jayasuriya nonchalantly clipped consecutive sixes behind square on the leg side.
By the time Tharanga was caught in the deep off Daniel Vettori, the chase had become a near-formality. Vettori and Scott Styris stemmed the tide somewhat, and with Kumar Sangakkara taking 17 balls to strike his first and only four, the run-rate slowly mounted. But the moment Sangakkara pulled Styris to deep square leg, New Zealand's fate was sealed, as Jayawardene came in and played a succession of gorgeous shots.
The chip over mid-off to get off the mark was impudent and a cut for four off Bond and a massive loft over midwicket off Jacob Oram just glorious. Jayasuriya fell to Vettori with just seven needed, trying to repeat an earlier six over long-on, but Jayawardene saw it home with seven balls to spare.
Earlier, Taylor and Peter Fulton had given the New Zealand innings impetus after Chaminda Vaas and Dilhara Fernando had varied their pace beautifully to keep the runs down in the initial exchanges. There were no hits to the outer, and Brendan McCullum, dropped at cover and short fine leg, couldn't capitalise on his good fortune either, miscuing a pull straight to Lasith Malinga at backward square leg.
Lou Vincent, who also struggled to power the ball away, followed soon after, lofting a full toss over Fernando's head for Chamara Silva to run across from mid-off and take the catch. But once Fulton got going with a huge swing over the leg side for six, the innings started to gather some momentum.
Vaas had bowled superbly right through his spell but his figures were ruined somewhat by Fulton cleverly flicking one down to fine leg for another six. But it was the Gayan Wijekoon, fairly new to international cricket, who was targetted ruthlessly as New Zealand upped the ante. Taylor effortlessly lofted him over midwicket for the first of three sixes, and the run-rate was close to nine by the time Fulton made room for himself, only to swat a Wijekoon delivery straight to Malinga at deep cover.
Malinga was introduced only in the 13th over, and proved rather difficult to get away. The pressure he built up claimed Craig McMillan, run out going for a quick single. By then, New Zealand had also lost Styris, unlucky to be given out leg before by Daryl Harper off Sanath Jayasuriya.
Oram got going with a deft reverse-sweep, and a huge straight six off Malinga, but the star of the show was undoubtedly Taylor, who found the gaps and ran hard during a sensational knock that ended only with a thin edge through to Kumar Sangakkara. Vettori, who had elected to bat on a pitch where most prefer to chase, thwacked Wijekoon for a six over backward point, but a last-ball run out left Sri Lanka with a chase that proved to be a Bullring stroll for Jayasuriya and friends.