New Zealand keep their nerve to clinch a thriller
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter

Ground:Guyana National Stadium, Providence
Scorecard:New Zealand v Sri Lanka
Player:DPMD Jayawardene, JD Ryder, NL McCullum, DL Vettori
Event:ICC World Twenty20 2010

DateLine: 30th April 2010


The first match of the ICC World T20 produced a cracker of a contest as New Zealand sneaked through to defeat Sri Lanka by two wickets. It was low scoring match as Sri Lanka in their 20 overs scored 135 for 5 while New Zealand in reply scored 139 for 8 in 19.5 overs.


Sangakkara won the toss and had no hesitation in electing to bat first on a pitch that was dry and would get progressively slower. Dilshan and Jayawardene opened the innings and the Lankan side would have expected a flier from the duo. While Jayawardene was fluent at one end striking some beautiful shots Dilshan was scratchy. The Kiwi bowlers bowled stump to stump and very rarely strayed in their direction but Jayawardene made room to manoeuvr the ball around and the shot that stood out was the pick-up shot for six of Bond over square-leg in the second over of the innings. Dilshan (3, 19b) never looked comfortable with his stay in the middle and Oram breached his porous defence with a perfect off-cutter.


The next man in skipper Sangakkara (4, 11b) too failed to find his rhythm as he struggled to get the ball of the square before he missed a straighter one from Styris and found his furniture re-arranged. The onus of repairing the innings fell on the shoulders of veteran Jayawardene and debutant Chandimal. While Jayawardene continued in his unfussy style Chandimal was a busy body in the middle. The debutant showed his mental strength as he was unfazed by the situation as he rotated the strike and even had the audacity to hit a six early in his innings. Jayawardene got to his third T20 fifty of 33 balls as the Lankan boat steadied.


The pair slowly began to play the big shots especially Jayawardene who had put a restraint in his shot-making. Chandimal (29, 23, 1x6, 1x4) encouraged by his senior partner's aggressive shots tried one of his own and would have got a maximum had not Taylor intercepted the shot with a brilliant piece of fielding. The pair added 59 in 7.2 overs to give the late-order batsmen a cushion to go after the bowling. Jayawardene (81, 51b, 2x6, 8x4) continued to blaze away till a mishit ended his innings. That wicket brought smiles on the faces of the New Zealanders as the Sri Lankans at the end of their 20 overs scored 135 for the loss of six wickets.


New Zealand got off to a the worst possible start as they lost their trump card McCullum for a duck in the first over of the innings. Mathews began with a wicket maiden and that began to put strain on the New Zealand chase. The pressure eased in the second over bowled by Welagedara as Ryder and Guptill collected a boundary each for themselves. Ryder then struck a monstrous six of Mathews to signal his aggressive intentions thus putting the Lankans slightly on the back foot. Mendis was brought on in the fourth over of the innings and could have had Guptill but Dilshan put down a tough chance at short covers.


Sangakkara changed his bowlers around as Malinga came on in the fifth over who was welcomed into the crease by Guptill who deposited him over long-off with sweetly timed six. The pair made sure that they did not get bogged down in the middle as they rotated the strike to keep the scoreboard moving. Though Ryder struck some powerful blows the slow outfield and the huge size of the ground prevented him from making full use of his shots. For the spinners he employed the sweep shot and even deposited Muralitharan over midwicket for a huge six. But the wily off-spinner had the last laugh as he cleaned up Ryder (42, 27b, 2x6, 3x4) with a flatter off-spinner.


Guptill (19, 24b, 1x6, 1x4) was cleaned up by a well bowled yorker from Jayasuriya as the Kiwis began to slip. The pitch was beginning to show signs of wear and tear and the Lankan slow bowlers began to play their tricks on the New Zealand batsmen. The pressure slowly built on the two batsmen, Taylor and Styris, as the pair began to show signs of desperation which was evident in their poor shot selections and hesitant in taking the sharp singles. The wickets began to fall as the Lankan side began to tighten their grasp over the match. The New Zealand hopes rested on the shoulders of skipper Vettori and he eased the frayed nerves by getting a boundary in the penultimate over.


Some smart running between the wickets by Vettori and Nathan McCullum brought the equation to 10 of six balls. McCullum got a single of the first ball before confusion reigned in the second delivery that very nearly produced a run-out. McCullum powered Malinga through square leg for a much needed boundary before Vettori was run-out in the next delivery. New Zealand needed three in two deliveries and Nathan McCullum cleared his left foot out of the way and smashed a fuller length delivery from Malinga straight over covers for a huge six to seal a memorable win.