New Zealand Start With Comfortable Win

New Zealand 331 for 6 (Anderson 75, McCullum 65, Williamson 57, Mendis 2-5) beat Sri Lanka 233 (Thirimanne 65, Anderson 2-18) by 98 runs.

Corey Anderson starred as New Zealand ran out comfortable winners over Sri Lanka as they exhibited why they are many pundits’ favourites to win the World Cup in six weeks’ time.

The New Zealand performance highlighted their strength in depth and reliance on each member of their team playing their part whilst also highlighting the shortcomings in the Sri Lankan line-up.

Having recently beaten the Sri Lankans 4-2 in a One-Day series - most of the wins by a huge margin - a victory from the Blackcaps was expected but they had to deliver in front of a sell-out crowd in Christchurch.

Brendon McCullum set the tone for the New Zealanders as he often does with a blazing 49-ball 65 including three boundaries in his first four balls in an opening partnership of 111 in 11.5 overs that set the tone for the rest of the innings. McCullum took 22 off a labouring Lasith Malinga over as New Zealand stormed out the blocks.

Martin Guptill, who comparison to McCullum seemed pedestrian with a 65-ball 49, was eventually dismissed by Suranga Lakmal in the 23rd over.

When Kane Williamson was caught at deep cow-corner for 57 off the bowling of Jeevan Mendis who also dismissed Ross Taylor next ball with a well-flighted leg-spinner that beat the New Zealanders bat and dragged him out the crease leaving Kumar Sangakkara to ignite the flashing bails and claw Sri Lanka back into the game.

Grant Elliott and Corey Anderson steadied the innings momentarily and subsequently took 33 off the batting powerplay before Elliott was caught at deep-wicket via a waist-high full toss from Suranga Lakmal for 27 in the 46th over.

The next four overs were a demonstration of the remarkable hitting ability of Corey Anderson. The left-hander has played some remarkable innings, including the then-fastest ODI hundred off just 36 balls, and tore into the weak Sri Lankan bowling with some remarkable shots.

Umpires and bowlers were in danger as Anderson flat-batted full deliveries straight towards them at the speed of a tracer bullet whilst also showing his subtlety with a delightful scoop over fine-leg off Lasith Malinga.

Anderson moved from 49 in the 47th over to 75 off 46 balls until he was dismissed off the final ball of the innings. Anderson's blitz had given Sri Lanka an intimidating target of 332.

Sri Lanka's bowling left a lot to desire. Lasith Malinga, often the figurehead for the Sri Lankans, summed up the display with an abject performance in his comeback from injury. Malinga went for 84 in ten overs including a no-ball wicket of Luke Ronchi.

Their best bowler, Rangana Herath, failed to complete his ten-over quota and leg-spin bowler Jeevan Mendis was removed after 2 economical overs that contained the crucial Williamson and Taylor wickets.

Sri Lanka got off to a confident start with Lahiru Thirimanne batting elegantly alongside Kumar Sangakkara after the evergreen Daniel Vettori had removed Tillakaratne Dilshan for 27.

The two moved Sri Lanka to 124-1 in the 22nd over before a mini-collapse that all but ended the game as a competitive contest.

Firstly, Trent Boult delivered a beautiful outswinging yorker to uproot Thirimanne for a 60-ball 65 that sent Mahela Jawardene out to the crease. Jayawardene lasted four balls until Vettori had him caught behind for a duck.

The last hope for Sri Lanka was another masterpiece of an innings from their iconic left-hander Sangakkara. However, Boult, who had the better of Sangakkara in the recent Test series between the two nations, had his man again as a full-pitched delivery was missed and a review was wasted as hawkeye showed the ball to be crashing into the middle of middle stump.

The rest of the innings was a formality as only captain Angelo Matthews provided any fight with 46 before sending a high catch to Vettori at mid-on off the bowling of Tim Southee.

Southee took one wicket, Boult two, Vettori two, Milne two and man-of-the-match Corey Anderson also taking two to complete a highly impressive team performance that shows why New Zealand believe they can win the World Cup.

New Zealand will now move to Dunedin to take on Scotland on Tuesday whilst Sri Lanka will be looking to bounce back against Afghanistan on Sunday.

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