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After putting up a brave and gritty effort in the opening test of their New Zealand tour, Sri Lankan's have slid down with a couple of heavy defeats in this tour. They were blanked by New Zealand in test series and their ODI campaign hasn't started the way they'd have liked it to. Although there were plenty of changes in the Kiwi lineup as compared to their test team, they appeared to be continuing from where they left off in the longest format of the game. They'll be looking to extend their lead further as they face Sri Lanka once against at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui on Saturday, 5th January.
Martin Guptill couldn't have wished for a better return to the international cricket. He scored a match-winning ton and carried his team till 42nd over before getting caught for a personal score of 138. His partnership early after the departure of Colin Munro set the tone for the Kiwis as the duo put together 163 runs for the first wicket before Kane Williamson was castled by Nuwan Pradeep.
Although the highest individual score of the match was hit by Martin Guptill, it was Jimmy Neesham's innings which stole the show. Jimmy Neesham played an unbelievable knock of 47 off just 13 deliveries which included six maximums. The highlight of the day was when he smashed Thisara Perera for 34 runs in over with five sixes coming in that over. His innings was probably the difference between a total in a range of 340-350 and the total which New Zealand ended up scoring.
After his terrific stint with the bat, Jimmy Neesham proved to be the man with the golden arm just a couple of hours later. Just when the Sri Lankan openers were going at around 7 runs per over, Neesham got rid of Gunathilika and followed it up with the wicket of Niroshan Dickwella. He returned with the figures 38 for 3 in his eight over which was extraordinary considering the number of runs which were scored in the opening game. Trent Boult got 2 for 65 in his 10 overs. Matt Henry was extremely expensive as he gave away 87 runs in his ten overs and got just one wicket.
Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, KS Williamson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Tim Seifert, James Neesham, Matt Henry, IS Sodhi, TA Boult, TG Southee.
After being smashed all-around in the two test matches by Williamson, Latham, Taylor, and Nicholls, the visiting bowlers had another field day on this tour with New Zealand scoring 371 runs in 50 overs. The Islanders' spinners bowled better than the quicker bowlers, but they, too, never appeared to be troubling Kiwi batsmen.
Lasith Malinga had a good last series, against South Africa, but he appeared rather ineffective on a batting-friendly surface with not-so-big boundaries. He was bowling at least about 5mph slower than he did on an average in the last series with slower balls being his stock deliveries. Sri Lankan bowlers conceded close to a hundred runs at the death, after Martin Guptill departure, in a little more than seven overs.
It's not every day that teams chase down 350+ totals and Thursday wasn't such day despite Sri Lanka getting off to a start they'd have wished for. Niroshan Dickwella was brilliant at the top order, but Gunathilaka's inability to keep up with the scoring rate forced Dickwella to lose his rhythm and consequently his wicket.
Gunathilika scored 43 off 62 deliveries which would have been a good knock on any other day, but was a pedestrian knock here considering that they were chasing a total of 372. Kusal Perera smashed a century to take Sri Lanka within the striking distance, but no support whatsoever from anyone else in the batting lineup saw them lose the match by 45 runs.
Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis , Dinesh Chandimal, Asela Gunaratne, Thisara Perera, S Prasanna, Lasith Malinga, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep.
Although it was just a 45-run defeat for Sri Lanka in the first match, they neither looked in control with the ball nor with the bat at any stage of the match. In recent times, their batsmen have had the tendency to throw their wickets away in a quest to score quickly which has often ended with them getting folded without even playing the quota of fifty overs. Their batsmen will have to take more responsibility going forward. The Kiwis, on the other hand, were flawless with the bat and although Henry was hammered away for runs, the rest of the bowlers were pretty good. New Zealand are playing at home and have been a better team in the tour so far and are better placed to emerge victorious in Saturday's showdown.