Sri Lanka 138 (37.5 overs) New Zealand 139-9 (36.3 overs)
Result: BLACKCAPS won by one wicket.
The BLACKCAPS have survived an inspired fight back from Sri Lanka’s bowlers to win their opening ICC Champions Trophy match in dramatic fashion at Cardiff Stadium.
Tasked with what looked like a simple run chase of 139 after a sublime bowling performance, New Zealand made hard work of it – losing all but their last wicket before the victory was nervously in the bag.
At 49-4 a win was by no means assured despite the incredibly low target but a dogged seventh wicket partnership from the McCullum brothers got the side back on target.
Kudos must go first and foremost to the bowling effort from the BLACKCAPS to dismiss Sri Lanka’s classy batting line-up for such a measly total.
There was great news before the start of play for BLACKCAPS fans with former captain Daniel Vettori declared fit to take part in his first match on tour.
While Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat, New Zealand had the best of the early stages. Captain Brendon McCullum gave his side the ultimate start with a superb diving catch to his left off the bowling of Kyle Mills to have opener Kusal Perera gone in the first ball of the match.
Mitchell McClenaghan got in on the act a few overs later when he had one of the Sri Lanka danger men TM Dilshan for 20 after smashing him for four the previous delivery.
Vettori only took three balls to show the seamers it wasn’t just going to be their day as he had another danger man Mahela Jayawardena lbw for four. Mills picked up his second wicket the next over with Dinesh Chandimal caught behind without scoring. The BLACKCAPS had Sri Lanka struggling at 34-4.
Sri Lanka chugged through to 65 before McClenaghan delivered a beauty – ripping out the leg stump of captain Angelo Mathews for nine. Kane Williamson came on for a bowl and he had Lahiru Thirimanne run out after a good bit of fielding by Martin Guptill.
The great Kumar Sangakkara provided the backbone of Sri Lanka’s recovery and he looked in sparkling form as he brought up his 50 while his partners fell around him. The next to go was Thisara Perera as McClenaghan had his third victim of the day caught down the wicket by Vettori.
Nathan McCullum, in his 50th ODI, got the all-important wicket of Sangakkara three overs later as he lashed out and was caught by Williamson for 68. The two tailenders went with just three more runs added to the total, with Sri Lanka all out for 138 after just 37.5 overs.
McClenaghan finished with the best figures in a superb team bowling effort. He collected four for 43, while McCullum got two late wickets to be 2-23, and Mills who did the early damage was 2-14. Vettori was the other wicket taker with 1-16. Mills’ two wickets put him equal top wicket-taker in Champions Trophy history with 24 wickets.
Chasing just 139 to win, the BLACKCAPS lost opener Luke Ronchi caught behind for seven before the teams broke for the scheduled lunch break. After a bite to eat, Williamson and Guptill took the team nearly through to 50 before Williamson got a slow full toss from Lusith Malinga that went straight onto his pads – gone lbw for 16.
Ross Taylor only lasted four balls before he also went lbw for a duck. The following over the Sri Lankans had the prized wicket of Guptill caught in the slips for 25 and New Zealand were in trouble at 49-4.
James Franklin and Brendon McCullum took the team to the halfway mark of 70 but after surviving one lbw shout from Dilshan, Franklin was gone the next ball for six. McCullum and Vettori added 10 more runs before the veteran spinner went for five to a terrible lbw call where he clearly got bat on it.
Then it was all the McCullum brothers as the pair put on 35 for the seventh wicket to ensure the victory was only 24 runs away. Brendon McCullum was bowled by a yorker by Malinga but by then the victory and the crucial two points appeared to be in the bag.
But it wasn’t to be that certain, as his brother went two overs later for 32 lbw to Malinga – his fourth wicket of the innings. When Mills was run out soon after it was nervously left to Tim Southee to see out the win in the thirty seventh over.