NZ open CWC impressively in crushing Sri Lanka by 10 wickets
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Three of the four openers batted unbeaten in vastly different circumstances as New Zealand crushed Sri Lanka by 10 wickets with almost 34 overs to spare in their Cricket World Cup opener on Saturday.
Sri Lanka was dismissed for 136 in 29.2 overs at Sophia Gardens, and only opener and captain Dimuth Karunaratne offered serious resistance to be left high and dry on 52 not out.
Black Caps openers Martin Guptill, 73 not out off 51 balls, and Colin Munro, 58 not out off 47 balls, raced to 137-0 off 16.1 overs, completing a dominant victory.
Karunaratne became only the second opener to carry his bat at the Cricket World Cup after Ridley Jacobs in 1999 for the West Indies against Australia.
Between them, the three openers faced 182 deliveries on Saturday. Make that 184 if you include Lahiru Thirimanne, the other of the game’s openers, who was out second ball to an inspired Matt Henry as Sri Lanka’s batting lineup gave a sign of what was to come.
“Colin and I were trying to have a bit of fun out there,” Guptill said.
Guptill hit Isuru Udana for a six as he reached a 39-ball half-century and New Zealand moved to 100 in 13 overs. Munro brought up his 50 off 41 balls in the next over. Guptill clouted two sixes — including one which appeared headed for the River Taff alongside the stadium — and eight boundaries overall. Munro hit one six and six fours.
Sri Lanka pacer Lasith Malinga conceded 46 runs in his five overs.
New Zealand won the toss and bowled first with impressive accuracy. A Sri Lanka riven by division at home and poor lead-in form lacked confidence. Batsmen failed to move their feet and played loose shots. They lost five wickets for 14 runs at one point.
“Batting is the main concern,” Karunaratne said. “You know, if you are losing wickets you can’t score 200, 250 runs. So we have to get some partnerships in the middle part.”
Coming together at a woeful 60-6, Karunaratne and Thisara Perera shared a 52-run partnership off 51 balls. Thisara Perera hit the only two sixes for Sri Lanka and was out for a 23-ball 27 to Trent Boult off Mitchell Santner, effectively ending Sri Lanka’s hopes of a decent total on a lively but not treacherous pitch.
Karunaratne said his players had been too impatient, and he should know, having been recalled after four years out of the ODI side to lead the team.
“You can’t go there and hit every ball, so you have to stay calm, sometimes give them a chance, give us a chance to settle down,” he said. “Once you get set you can score in these conditions. They bowled really well.”
Sri Lanka was unable to cope with New Zealand’s seam bowling, with Henry (3-29) and Lockie Ferguson (3-22) doing most of the damage. Henry conceded 107 runs in nine overs against the West Indies on Tuesday in a practice match but he was given time on Saturday to settle by Williamson and the encouragement paid off.
Henry had a hat-trick opportunity after Kusal Perera (29) skied a catch to Colin de Grandhomme and Kusal Mendis went for a golden duck in the ninth over, caught brilliantly in the slips by Guptill.
“Being in the top two or three of the best fielding sides ... you know, you can save a lot runs and go a long way to actually winning the competition,” Guptill said.
Sri Lanka has endured the distraction of suspensions of several players and board officials, including World Cup winner Sanath Jayasuriya, for not co-operating with ICC’s anti-corruption investigators, and it showed.
They stay in Cardiff for Afghanistan on Tuesday, while New Zealand plays Bangladesh on Wednesday.