New Zealand win to stay in the tournament
by Jinu Sabastian

Ground:New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Scorecard:New Zealand v Sri Lanka
Player:KMDN Kulasekara, DPMD Jayawardene, ST Jayasuriya, MJ Guptill, JD Ryder
Event:ICC Champions Trophy 2009/10

DateLine: 27th September 2009


A superb all-round effort from the under-fire New Zealand team has pushed the Lankan team to the brink. Both the teams needed to win the match to stay in the tournament and New Zealand with the win will be hoping to win the final match to go through to the semi-finals off the ICC Champions Trophy 2009. Ryder and McCullum got the New Zealand side off to a flier and just when it seemed that the Kiwi side had lost their way after a middle order wobble Guptill and Vettori got the innings back on track and late blitz from Franklin and Mills pushed the score past 300 run mark. Sri Lanka in reply rode on a classy innings from Jayawardene to give a scare to the New Zealand team but in the end the score was just too much for the Lankan team.


Electing to field first after winning the toss, the Lankan bowlers were immediately put to sword by a rampaging Ryder who was well-supported by a circumspect McCullum. The right-left combination upset the plans off Thushara and Kulasekara who struggled to adjust. To add more salt to their wounds poor fielding helped the Kiwi batsmen off the hook. To add to the mis-fields that was on display, drop catches made their appearance. Mendis misjudged a catch Kandamby put down a chance at square leg and coincidentally Ryder was the benefactor on both the occasions. Unfortunately for Ryder, he was impacted by a hamstring injury and was forced to call a runner in the fifth over. The injury removed the thought off gathering runs in singles and Ryder began to pepper the boundary hoardings with alarming regularity. Kulasekara was thrashed over extra cover and swung over midwicket for six, Thushara was slapped though point, and Malinga was welcomed with two sumptuous off-side boundaries. A 13-run second over off Malinga, which raised Ryder's fifty off just 28 balls, took the score to 76 for 0 after ten overs.


This avalanche off runs forced Sangakkara to delay the Powerplay and the spread field forced Ryder to maneuver the ball around rather than going for all-out attack. Ryder could not put away his attacking instincts and though the field was pushed back he responded with some straight boundaries to upset the Lankan skipper's plans. The pair raised 100 runs mark in just 16 overs when McCullum pulled a sharp bouncer from Malinga to fine-leg and the frown on the Lankan skipper's forehead increased with each passing boundary. Ryder got subdued after the initial carnage that he inflicted on the Lankan bowlers and once he regained his composure Kulasekara felt the heat when the burly left-hander crashed a low full toss to long on boundary. Kulasekara finally restored some sanity to the proceedings when the adrenaline rush got better off Ryder as he tried to mow Kulasekara across the line only to edge it to Sangakkara behind the stumps. The opening stand had produced 125 runs in 20 overs thus giving the rest off the batsmen a solid base to work up to a mammoth total. Ryder had bulldozed his way to a violent 74 off 58 balls with ten powerfully struck balls and one huge six.


The frustration on Ryder's face was palpable as he knew for sure that he had missed out on a flat track. McCullum (46) fell after ten balls when a leading edge from the wicketkeeper-batsman was snapped up by the ever excitable Dilshan. Sangakkara brought in the left-arm spin off Jayasuriya who responded to his captain's call immediately. A leading edge from Taylor (4) was unable to get to the pitch off the ball which took the leading edge and was easily pouched by Jayawardene. Mathews then evicted Elliot (0) from the middle when he trapped the right-hander right in front and the score read 140 for four in 23.5 overs. Guptill and Broom had to settle the frayed nerves in the dressing room before they could use the long handle.


The bowling powerplay was taken in the 31st overs and Broom (15) slammed a rank long-hop from Jayasuriya straight to Jayawardene at point to reduce New Zealand to 161 for five in 30.2 overs. It seemed that the strong base laid by the openers were wasted by the lower order batsmen and as before Vettori had to don the garment off rescuer for the Kiwi team. Guptill and Vettori put their head down to fight it their team as they tried to put the innings back on track. Single and doubles were the features off their partnership as they slowly frustrated the Sri Lankan team. Vettori even guided Malinga over third man for a six and that remained his lone shot of extravagance. For most off the time Vettori resorted to his favourite jabs and nudges to keep the scoreboard moving. The pair added 69 in 11.2 overs and looked set to take full toll off the batting Powerplay. But Vettori (48) chipped Jayasuriya straight to Kapugedera's throat and New Zealand was precariously placed at 230 for 6 in 41.4 overs. Guptill who was very quiet till then began to open up and slam the Lankan bowlers to the boundaries. He along with Franklin added 54 runs in 6.2 overs as the Kiwi team edged closer to the 300 run mark .Guptill (66) then was cleaned up by an unplayable yorker from a pacey Malinga and some late order hitting from Franklin (27) and Mills (17) pushed the score past the 300 run mark. New Zealand finally ended with a competitive total off 315 for the loss off 7 wickets, their highest score against Sri Lanka in a one-dayer.


Needing 316 to win, the Lankan openers came out with their guns blazing. Both opening bowlers, Bond and Mills were hammered around by Dilshan and Jayasuriya who returned back the treatment meted out their bowlers. Mills and Bond did not know where to bowl as they erred in line and length to two batsmen who were on look out for quick runs. Bond was literally torn apart by Jayasuriya and Dilshan as 17 runs cam off in his first over. Some very powerful shots echoed through the ground as the opening duo pulverised the Kiwi bowlers into as the opening wicket yielded 66 runs in 7.5 overs before Tuffey removed Jayasuriya to pull back things for New Zealand. In the very next over though Sangakkara was dropped on naught by Vettori at mid-on, Mills had Dilshan hooking to deep square-leg and the Lankan score read 67 for 2 in 8.5 overs.


In the next over, Jayawardene was dropped on naught by McCullum off Tuffey and it seemed that the Kiwi team had not got their focus back after the mind-numbing carnage by the Lankan openers. Unfortunately for the Lankan team, Sangakkara did not make full use off the let-off as he edged to first slip off a shorter one from Franklin. Sensing the tension seeping into the Lankan camp, Vettori went for all out attack as he stifled the Lankan batsmen with a packed field thus denying the batsmen the crucial singles to get into the groove. Samaraweera was not at his usual self as he threw his bat around keeping in mind with the rising run rate but, Vettori had the better off him when he got him to cut to point and then Kandamby's run-out was the ample proof off tension seeping in and the Lankan score read 137 with half off their side back in the pavilion. To make the matters worse the hard-hitting Mathews was dismissed thus denying the Lankan team the fire-power to go for the assault in last few overs.


Jayawardene was joined at the crease by Mathews and it seemed that the Kiwi bowlers will complete the formality in a few overs. But what New Zealand bowlers did not expect was the sudden explosion of Jayawardene. The elegant right-hander realised that the Lankan team was running out off time and resources as he decided to take up the batting Powerplay. Bond was welcomed back into the attack with a 13 run over which included a quality looking huge straight six. Bond continued to leak runs when his eighth over went for 14 runs and Vettori knew that if things went in the same way things could really go out off hand. Taking cue from his senior partner, Kulasekara dumped Mills over extra-cover and long-on for two huge sixes to add pressure on the Kiwi captain. Meanwhile Jayawardene motored along to reach an elegant looking fifty and was it seemed that he would anchor the chase to perfection. The game had swung in Sri Lanka's favour and instead off wickets, Vettori needed to plug the runs and he did just that.


Finally Vettori got rid off Jayawardene when he cleaned him up with a quicker ball. Jayawardene played a chance-less knock off highest quality but with overs running out he had to go for his shots and surprisingly he was well-supported by Kulasekara. The pair added 78 in 11 overs to give the New Zealand team a scare. Kulasekara and Thushara did not let the daunting asking rate get to them as they threw the bat around to close the gap between the Lankan score and the New Zealand score. Once Thushara fell, the interest remained as to whether Kulasekara would get to his maiden ODI fifty which he duly reached in 54 balls.