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New Zealand beats Sri Lanka by 45 runs in 1st ODI

January 3, 2019

MOUNT MAUNGANUI, New Zealand (AP) — Opening batsman Martin Guptill made an impressive return to international cricket after a 10-month absence through injury, scoring 138 to lead New Zealand to a 45-run win over Sri Lanka on Thursday in the first of three one-day internationals.

Guptill’s most-recent ODI was against England in March and for the intervening period he has battled a variety of injuries, mostly calf strains, before gaining a recall for the current series and likely for the World Cup later this year.

He was straight back into the groove Thursday, compiling his 14th one-day international century to lead New Zealand to 371-7 as it batted first after winning the toss.

All-rounder Jimmy Neesham, playing his first ODI since June, 2017, took 3-38 as New Zealand bowled out Sri Lanka for 326 with an over to spare.

For a good part of the run chase, Sri Lanka was ahead of the asking rate as Kusal Perera slammed 102 for 86 balls, receiving early support from Niroshan Dickwella who made 76 and Dushmantha Gunathilaka 43.

Guptill’s brilliant innings separated the teams. After losing his opening partner Colin Munro at 23-1, he put on 163 for the second wicket with Kane Williamson (76) to ensure New Zealand reached a competitive total on an outstanding batting pitch.

Williamson looked bound for a bigger score when he made an uncharacteristic error, chopping the ball onto his own stumps as he sought to work another shot backward of point

Guptill went on to his century from 111 balls with 10 fours and two sixes, looking very much the player who helped New Zealand to the final of the last World Cup in 2015.

“It’s been a long time out and obviously there was the intensity and a big step up,” Guptill said. “It’s been a lot of hard work. To come back and then two days out from a return to tear my calf was pretty frustrating. But over the last three months I’ve put in a lot of hard work to get back to where I am now.”

Guptill set up the New Zealand innings, falling when it was 274-3 in the 43rd over.

Ross Taylor then carried the momentum of the innings, scoring 54 from 37 balls and Neesham, in a bold return, scored an unbeaten 47 from only 13 deliveries.

After 20 overs Sri Lanka was 133-2 and in good shape. Perera kept up the pressure on the New Zealand bowlers, taking his century from only 83 balls and keeping Sri Lanka in the game at least until the 40 over mark.

But Neesham’s contribution with the ball and others by Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson ensured New Zealand took a 1-0 series lead.

“A nice win,” Williamson said. “There were two very competitive sides who came out and played some very good cricket.”

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