New Zealand beats Sri Lanka by 120 runs to seal series win
DUNEDIN, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand clinched a 4-1 series victory over Sri Lanka by winning Sunday’s sixth game of the seven-match one-day series by 120 runs.
Kane Williamson made 97, Ross Taylor 96 and Corey Anderson scored 40 and took 3-37 as New Zealand defended its total of 315-8, dismissing Sri Lanka for just 195 in 40.3 overs in a match laced with umpiring controversy.
New Zealand’s strong form bodes well for the upcoming World Cup, which it co-hosts with Australia. Its six innings in the series so far, including the rained-out second match in Auckland, have contained four centuries by four different batsmen and five half centuries by five different players.
New Zealand and Sri Lanka meet in the opening World Cup match in Christchurch on Feb. 14.
Williamson and Taylor provided the foundation of the New Zealand innings with a partnership of 117 for the third wicket which lifted the home side to 176-3 and ended when Taylor ran out Williamson in the 35th over.
Taylor atoned by going on to make a large score but also fell with a century in sight.
New Zealand was on target for a score close to the 360-5 it achieved on the same pitch in the fifth match on Friday but it’s innings fizzled with three run outs.
There was some early controversy when New Zealand opener Martin Guptill (28) had two let-offs: one when he was surprisingly given not out to an lbw appeal when the Decision Review System was out of order, and another when the TV umpire ruled an edged delivery had not carried to Kumar Sangakkara despite the Sri Lanka wicketkeeper appearing to get his gloves under the ball.
Guptill fell soon after, given out caught behind on replay review after the field umpire initially said not out.
Tillakaratne Dilshan (21) and stand-in captain Lahiru Thirimanne (29) gave Sri Lanka a slow but sound start in its run chase, putting on 56 in 13 overs for the first wicket.
Kumar Sangakkara then took over the leadership role and scored 81 from 66 balls in an effort to propel Sri Lanka to a win which could keep alive chances of squaring the series. But he was party to two of the three run outs that blighted an innings that rapidly deteriorated from 146-3 to all out for 195.
Left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori, returning to the side for his 284th one day international — to overtake Stephen Fleming as New Zealand’s most-capped one-day player — applied the brakes in the middle overs, bowling eight overs for 22 runs.
Kyle Mills also returned to the New Zealand lineup after missing the previous matches in the series while recovering from injury. He bowled six overs for 29 runs.
Anderson took the role of the wicket-taker and dismissed Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene (9), Dimuth Karunaratne (9) and Thisara Perera (2) to enforce New Zealand’s claim to a series victory.
“It was a thorough performance today against a very good Sri Lankan team,” New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said. “The way we went about posting 315 and the partnerships we built along the way was very clinical and the bowlers did a very good job as well on a very true surface.”
Sri Lanka’s third-straight loss to New Zealand may cause some concern with only one match remaining in the series — in Wellington on Thursday — and with the World Cup fast approaching.
“Our concern is death bowling,” Thirimanne said. “We bowled 30 or 35 overs very well but the last 15 overs but we couldn’t get wickets and we also leaked runs.
“Our fast bowlers don’t have much experience so it’s a learning curve for the younger bowlers and hopefully we can make it right in the World Cup.”