Black Caps clinch a thriller
New Zealand pulled off a nail-biting one-wicket victory in a low-scoring Group ‘A’ thriller against Sri Lanka, who very nearly defended a score of 138, in the ICC Champions Trophy on Sunday.
Chasing a paltry total, New Zealand made heavy weather of their run chase as Sri Lanka put up a tremenduous fight on the back of a fiery spell by paceman Lasith Malinga. New Zealand were made to sweat for every run scored as they huffed and puffed their way to victory with 13.3 overs to spare at Sophia Gardens.
The track was conducive for seam bowlers as both sides reaped benefits with the likes of Kyle Mills, Shaminda Eranga and Lasith Malinga extracting a lot of movement off the pitch.
Malinga put on display an incisive spell of fast bowling to slice through the opposition batting line-up but could not decisively turn the tide in his team’s favour. Malinga bowled his heart out to finish with an impressive figures of four for 34 from his 10 overs.
Earlier, New Zealand bowlers stuck to a disciplined line to skittle out Sri Lanka for a paltry 138 inside 38 overs, their fifth-lowest total after choosing to bat first.
Barring former skipper Kumar Sangakkara who stood tall amidst ruins, scoring 68 off 87 balls with eight boundaries, others simply didn’t have any clue against controlled seam bowling by seasoned Kyle Mills (2/14) and young left-arm seamer Mitchell McClenaghan (4/43), who kept cutting partnerships short.
The start for New Zealand was equally disastrous as they lost Luke Ronchi for seven when he was caught by Sangakkara behind the wickets off Eranga. Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson led the recovery path for the Black Caps with a 34-run stand for the second wicket but Malinga flummoxed the latter with a slower delivery.
Sri Lanka tightened the noose around New Zealand’s neck and picked up two more crucial wickets to left the New Zealanders reeling at 49 for four after the end of first mandatory powerplay. In their previous 10 meetings, New Zealand had just managed to beat Sri Lanka only once.