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Record Ronchi-Elliott stand powers NZ to win over Sri Lanka

January 23, 2015

DUNEDIN, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s Luke Ronchi blasted 170 not out and Grant Elliott made 104 in a record unbroken 267-run partnership which lifted the Black Caps to a 108-run over Sri Lanka on Friday, taking an unbeatable 3-1 lead in their one-day series.

Ronchi and Elliott came together with New Zealand in trouble at 93-5 and put on 267 runs from 180 balls to power the hosts to 360-5 at University Oval.

Elliott then took 2-42 and Ronchi took claimed two wicketkeeping catches as Sri Lanka was bowled out for 252 in 43.4 overs.

Tillakaratne Dilshan made 116 but Sri Lanka’s run-chase was never on pace to successfully chase the big target.

New Zealand’s performance boded well for the upcoming World Cup, as it demonstrated the team’s depth of batting talent, even after leading batsmen Brendon McCullum (25), Kane Williamson (26) and Corey Anderson (8) were dismissed cheaply.

The Wellington provincial teammates Ronchi and Elliott helped New Zealand assemble its highest-ever score in one-day games against Sri Lanka and its sixth highest in all 50-overs internationals. The partnership was New Zealand’s highest for all wickets against Sri Lanka and its second highest against all nations, trailing the record of 274 by James Marshall and Brendon McCullum against Scotland.

Ronchi raced to his 50 from 38 balls and to his maiden one-day international century from 74 balls with nine fours and three sixes. His entire innings contained only 99 balls, with 14 fours and nine sixes.

Elliott was the rock of the innings after New Zealand’s early batting slump on a wicket which offered the bowling side early seam movement. But he accelerated with Ronchi’s leadership and reached his 100, his second in ODIs, from 93 balls with seven fours and two sixes.

“It was good for both of us, we just worked off each other and enjoyed the whole situation,” Ronchi said. “Early on we were quite relaxed about the whole thing and thought we’d just bat for as long as we can.

“Then when things started flowing along we were laughing and joking as much as we can between balls and trying to start as light-hearted as possible during the whole situation.”

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said the pitch favored the bowlers early but settled to become an ideal batting strip.

“We were just out there trying to occupy the crease a little bit and build a decent partnership,” he said. “At 93-5 the game could go either way but we had two guys who stepped up under pressure and produced on the best partnerships we’ll see in one-day cricket.”

Lahiru Thirimanne captained Sri Lanka for the first time Friday in the absence of Angelo Matehws, who had a calf injury. He did everything possible in his side’s cause, winning the toss and taking two early wickets but failed to break or even contain the key partnership.

He then opened the batting and scored 45 in a 93-run opening stand with Dilshan. But when Dilshan was out at 215-4 in the 37th over, Sri Lanka was unable to go on.

“It was a tough day because at 93-5 we thought we could get them all out for under 200,” Thirimanne said. “But things went wrong for us today.

“We didn’t bowl to our bowling plan and that cost us.”

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