CARDIFF: New Zealand survived a hostile spell from sling-arm fast-bowler Lasith Malinga to carve out a tense one-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the Champions Trophy.
The Black Caps messed up a simple chase of Sri Lanka’s 138 all out and were reduced to 122 for eight, before the last-wicket pair of Tim Southee and Mitchell McClenaghan saw them through in the 37th over.
Left-arm seamer McClenaghan set up the victory with four for 43 after Sri Lanka elected to bat, but Malinga stole the thunder with four for 34 that almost secured his team an improbable victory.
The dramatic win helped New Zealand end a six-match losing streak against the Sri Lankans and claim full points in their first match of the eight-nation tournament.
New Zealand were cruising at 48 for one when Sri Lanka hit back with three wickets for one run in the space of eight deliveries.
Malinga triggered the collapse with a full toss that crashed into Kane Williamson’s pads. Umpire Rod Tucker upheld an appeal for leg-before.
Ross Taylor was leg-before to spinner Rangana Herath for zero, before Martin Guptill edged seamer Shaminda Eranga high to Mahela Jayawardene in the slips.
When James Franklin fell leg-before to Tillakaratne Dilshan in the 15th over, New Zealand had lost half their side for 70 runs.
Brothers Brendon and Nathan McCullum put on 35 for the seventh wicket to raise New Zealand’s hopes before Malinga removed both batsmen in three balls to make it 122 for eight in the 32nd over.
Earlier, Sri Lanka, who had won 10 of their last 11 completed 50-over games against New Zealand, let themselves down with a sloppy batting display in the first session.
Veteran Kumar Sangakkara played a lone hand for the Islanders with 68, his 75th one-day half-century, but five of the other six top-order batsmen failed to reach double figures as the team folded in 37.5 overs.
New Zealand captain Brendon was relieved his side ended victorious.
“I am happy, though incredibly nervous at one stage,” said Brendon. “Sri Lanka are always a dangerous side and we panicked a bit in the middle. But I thought we played well for the majority of the game. Our bowlers were the reason that we won the game today.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2013.
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