New Zealand won by 2 wickets – Sri Lanka 135/6(20 overs), New Zealand 139/8 (19.5 overs)
The lung opener in the third version of the ICC T20 was the ideal script from an organizers view point. The pendulum swung both ways as New Zealand reached the target of 136 runs with just one ball to spare and two wickets in hand. The hero was none other than Nathan Mc Cullen who made it count by lofting Lasith Malinga for a glorious six over long off in the penultimate ball of the innings.
Sri Lanka winning the toss and electing to bat first made 135 for 6 wickets on a sluggish pitch that aided spin bowlers. Mahela Jayewardene was out standing with a stylish 81 which included two sixes and eight boundaries. Dinesh Chandimal the debutant batting at number four justified his selection with a well compiled 29 off 23 balls.
The right hander was caught brilliantly by Ross Taylor in the 16th over off the bowling of Nathan Mc Cullen with Sri Lanka on 103. Young Chandimal was involved in a 59 run partnership with senior pro Mahela Jayewardene for the 3rd wicket. TM Dilshan seems out of form and this has created immense pressure for the strong Sri Lankan batting line up. Dilshan faced 18 balls and scored only 3 runs which is a concern for Sangakkara and co.
The pick of the bowlers was Nathan Mc Cullen, he opened the bowling for the Kiwis and was miserly, conceding only 17 runs in his 4 overs and had an important scalp, that of Dinesh Chandimal.
As expected the black caps were excellent in their ground fielding and catching. They grabbed every opportunity, offered by their opponents.
Chasing a modest score of 136 for victory, the black caps lost Brendon Mc Cullen in the very first over off the bowling of Angelo Mathews for no score. Jessie Ryder and Martin Guptil then settled in, and batted with confidence to put on a good partnership of 62 runs for the second wicket. Muttia Muralidharan got the vital break through; when he had the dangerous Ryder bowled for 42. Guptil followed yorked by Jayasuriya for 19 with the Kiwis on 66 for 3.
The spinners then put the brakes on, however Ajantha Mendis was picked for two big sixes by Jacob Oram in the in the 15th over, which was a big turning point in this game. After the dismissal of Oram and Hopkins , the former bowled by Welegedera for 15 and the latter run out by Dilshan for 1 ,Sri Lanka took control with the Kiwis on 117 for 7 wickets in the 18th Over.
Cometh the hour cometh the man in Nathan Mc Cullen, stroked 16, runs off 6 balls under tremendous pressure to help the Kiwis win with one ball to spare.
Sri Lanka are in a must win situation now against Zimbabwe who have played good T20 Cricket in recent times.
This Monday the Sri Lankans will have to be better than their best, otherwise an early exit from the competition looms in the air.