NZ beats Sri Lanka by 98 runs in WCup opener
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand recorded an authoritative 98-run win over Sri Lanka in the World Cup’s opening game Saturday, with Brendon McCullum and Corey Anderson producing the destructive batting the co-hosts hope will carry them to the title.
Sri Lanka sent New Zealand in to bat, but soon regretted that decision as McCullum made 65 from 49 balls and shared a 111-run opening partnership with Martin Guptill (49) which set up the victory.
Kane Williamson scored 57 to hold together the middle order and Anderson blasted 75 from 46 balls with eight fours as two sixes to lift New Zealand to 331-6.
Sri Lanka was never likely to challenge that total and was bowled out for 233 in 46.1 overs in reply. The only bright note for Sri Lanka was Kumar Sangakkara moving up to second on the list of all-time run-makers in one-day internationals, above Ricky Ponting and below Sachin Tendulkar.
“We led into the tournament with some confidence and some good wins under out belt but we knew that it all meant nothing come today so to put in a performance such as that is really good,” said Anderson, who also took 2-18 to be named Man of the Match.
“We’re excited for the win. We know its early stages of the tournament, as well. It’s our first game and we’ve still got a long road to go down before we can starting thinking of making the quarterfinals.”
New Zealand’s billing as a genuine contender to win this World Cup is based chiefly on the power hitters sprinkled through its order, as McCullum and Anderson did on Saturday.
McCullum went on the attack from the outset, reaching his half century from 35 balls with eight fours and a six. He particularly targeted Lasith Malinga, returning to the Sri Lanka bowling lineup after an ankle injury and playing in his first official one-day international since August.
McCullum struck four fours and a six — 23 runs in total — from the last over of Malinga’s opening spell. Malinga, Sri Lanka’s most dangerous bowler, finished with 0-84 from his 10 overs.
New Zealand’s run rate slowed substantially after the dismissal of McCullum and Guptill. Williamson took time to establish himself, then moved steadily to a half century.
Williamson and Ross Taylor (14) fell in succession to the leg spin of Jeevan Mendis who took 2-5 from his two overs.
New Zealand’s innings stuttered briefly before Anderson took up the onslaught in the final overs. He took full advantage of a let-off, when he was dropped by Mendis on 46, sweeping on to a half century from 36 balls.
Anderson’s last partner, Luke Ronchi who finished 29 not out, was also reprieved when he was bowled by Malinga from what television replays later showed was a no ball.
After lifting New Zealand past 300 with a six and adding 61 runs from the last five overs, Anderson was out to the last ball of the New Zealand innings.
New Zealand’s formidable total called into question Sri Lanka’s unexpected decision to bowl on winning the toss. Hagley Oval has been a haven for batsmen since its elevation to test and one-day international status — New Zealand made 331-8 in its final warmup against South Africa on Wednesday — and it was expected the side that won the toss would bowl.
Mathews may have hoped his bowling attack, strengthened by Malinga’s return, would contain New Zealand, allowing his batsmen, especially the World Cup veterans Tillakaratne Dilshan, Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, to lead an effective run chase.
But New Zealand’s total was too much. Lahiru Thirimanne made 65, sharing partnerships of 65 for the first wicket with Dilshan (24) and 57 for the second with Sangakkara (39) but Sri Lanka were under pressure when Jayawardene was out for a duck at 125-3.
New Zealand showed the ability of its bowlers to take wickets at vital times, especially when Trent Boult, after taking 0-27 from his first four overs, returned to dismiss Thirimanne and Sangakkara in the space of three overs, to finish with 2-64. Boult bowled Thirimanne with a superb yorker and trapped Sangakkara lbw with a similarly full delivery.
Young quick Adam Milne, included at the expense of veteran Kyle Mills, then dismissed Dimuth Karunaratne (14) and Jeevan Mendis (4) in the 32nd to stifle any late fightback. Milne struck Sri Lanka tailender Rangana Herath in the helmet with a short delivery late in the match but Herath was unhurt.
Anderson took 2-18 in a fine all-round performance and Tim Southee took 2-43.
Sri Lanka must quickly put the loss behind it and focus on the next game against Afghanistan in Dunedin.
“We gave them 20 or 30 extra runs when we bowled first,” Thirimanne said. “It was a good wicket but 280 or 290 would have been really chase-able in this ground. We didn’t field well so that cost us.
“Anywhere in the world this can happen but this is just one match.”