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|Dhananjaya de Silva||5.0||0||35||0||7.00|
|Dhananjaya de Silva||36||29||5||1||124.14|
New Zealand sealed the ODI series against Sri Lanka with a win on Saturday at Mount Maunganui, but the day will not be remembered for that. Instead, it will go down in the history books as a day featuring one of the most blockbusting innings of ODI cricket. Thisara Perera played an incredible knock to bring Sri Lanka at the brink of victory before he was dismissed. The knock from him would have instilled a lot of belief among the team and will be looking to garner a consolation victory when the two teams meet to play third ODI of the series at Saxton Oval, Nelson on 7th January. We have seen plenty of runs being scored in both the matches and the small ground having quick outfield at Nelson has all the ingredients for the encounter to be a nail-biting one.
Although New Zealand finally got a win to their name in the second ODI, it wasn't before they were involved in a few nervous moments. The Kiwis exhibited one their worst performances in the field as they drop close to ten catches during Perera's onslaught.
Along with some poor efforts in the field from the home team, there was pretty sloppy with the bat in hand as well. Although Sri Lanka's ground fielding the supreme, it was ridiculous to see four Kiwi batsmen getting run-out including important dismissals of Ross Taylor and Colin Munro.
Jimmy Neesham continued from where he left in the last match. He hammered 47 runs in just 13 deliveries in the first ODI and followed that knock with a match-winning 37-ball 64-run knock. Coming back into the Kiwi side after a long time, Neesham has already proved his worth with some excellent spells with the ball and a couple of swashbuckling innings. He is sure to play a vital role in the third ODI and getting rid of him quickly will be one of the top priorities for Sri Lanka.
Right from the beginning of this tour, New Zealand batsmen have looked in fine touch regardless of the color of the ball. Kane Williamson already has a fifty to his name in the ODI series and will be looking to convert it to something big in the upcoming match, especially after failing to do anything considerable in the second match. Arguably most dangerous pair for the Lankan bowlers will be the opening duo of Colin Munro and Martin Guptill who both have scored runs at a rapid rate in the series so far. Ross Taylor was fabulous in 2018 where he played one of the best ODI innings of the year and his 90-run knock could well only be the sign of things to come.
All in all, New Zealand have looked flawless so far in the series barring the last quarter of the 2nd ODI where their bowlers had no answer to Perera counter-attacking innings. It's been twice that the Kiwis have failed to wrap up the match after being in a position to dictate terms - once in tests and then in the last ODI, and it will be a matter to ponder upon for their think tank. They'd have had plenty to learn from that and continue to be a tough team to get past in the final match of the series as well.
Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, KS Williamson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, James Neesham, Tim Seifert, TG Southee, Matt Henry, IS Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson.
Although the series is already lost, that innings by Thisara Perera has certainly provided them visitors with a ray of hope going into the third time. There isn't a lot of time left in the marquee ICC tournament, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, and a consolation win in the third ODI following an incredible knock might just be the tonic the Islanders need.
While it was the knock from Kusal Perera in the opening ODI which propelled Sri Lankan score to more than 300, Thisara Perera upped it further while he held the game by the scruff of its neck only to fall short by merely 21 runs. He slammed 140 off just 74 deliveries and took Sri Lanka's total from 128 for 7 to 298 before he was caught at the long-on boundary.
On-paper Sri Lanka lost the match by just 21 runs, but there was more to that story than the scorecard suggests. Barring Danusha Gunathilaka's 71, none of their top-order batsmen was able to stay at the wicket as Sri Lanka found themselves in a spot of bother as early as midway through their innings. It was a similar story in the first ODI as well where only Perera and Gunathilaka looked settled on the crease.
Sri Lanka displayed an improved bowling effort on Saturday as they restricted hosts to 319 on the same surface where they conceded 371 in fifty overs. After an expensive performance, Lasith Malinga displayed his class as he rocked Kiwis with two wickets. He was the best bowler for the tourists as he returned with the figures of 10-0-45-2. However, there wasn't much support on offer from their other bowlers which allowed Kiwis a freeway as far as scoring runs was concerned.
Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis , Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, PVD Chameera.
It was inspiring innings from Thisara Perera in the last match which certainly embossed vulnerabilities of both the sides. For New Zealand, their failure to wrap up the games under pressure and poor fielding was something they'd need to look at whereas, for the visitors, the irresponsible show from their batsmen and indisciplined bowling from their bowlers will be a cause of concern. World Cup is just a quarter of a year away and both teams will be looking to iron out all the blemishes they have in the limited number of games left to play. Considering the way two teams have played so far in the series, Sri Lankans are although catching up with the Kiwis, they still have a lot of work to do. Therefore, we think that New Zealand are favorites to win the upcoming match and head into the shortest version of the game with a 3-0 win in the ODI series.
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