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|Colin de Grandhomme||59||46||2||3||128.26|
New Zealand's series against Sri Lanka started with a tightly contested match where pendulum kept oscillating to and fro between the two sides. New Zealand eventually sealed the deal primarily on the back of their batting depth and athleticism and will be looking to carry the momentum forward and close the series in the second match of the series. The second match of the series is to be played at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, the same venue as the first game, on Tuesday, 3rd Septemeber. The test series turned out to be mightly close earlier in the month and going by how the first T20I panned out, the fans can certainly expect a mouth-watering contest in the two remaining matches of the series.
Sri Lanka were never favorites to emerge on top mainly because of inexperienced batting, but they lost the match because they were toothless with the ball in the middle overs. Barring Lasith Malinga and Akila Dananjaya, who both did extremely well to rock the visitors with quick strikes early on, none of their bowlers looked sharp and gave away too many runs in the middle overs.
Sri Lankans will be pleased with the way they batted in the first match. Kusal Mendis and Kusal Perera looked fluent at the top of the order, with the former going onto hit a brilliant 79. His 63-run partnership with Niroshan Dickwella was vital in setting up the stage for them. Avishka Fernando had done pretty well for the hosts in all the limited-overs matches they've played, but he looked out of sorts in the first match as he could score just ten runs of seventeen deliveries.
A total of 174 runs on the board and a surface conducive to spin bowling was all Sri Lanka needed to hand a defeat to the Kiwis. All look well in control for the hosts until the first ball of the 19th over of the second innings before Malinga conceded five wides. All that was left was a formality after that over as Kiwis were left to chase just three in the final over.
Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella, Shehan Jayasuriya, Kusal Mendis , Avishka Fernando, Isuru Udana, Dasun Shanaka, Wanidu Hasaranga, Lasith Malinga, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan.
Just when Sri Lanka looked to outclass New Zealand on a rain-hit day, the experience of Ross Taylor and the brute-power of Colin de Grandhomme came to the rescue of the visitors as they completed a rather comfortable victory, which at one time appeared to be rather improbable.
Bowling first on a flat deck, the Kiwi bowlers started off well as they kept things tight in the first few overs, but the lack of wickets started to hurt them a bit once powerplay got over. Tim Southee was their only bowler who consistently delivered during all the stages of the game. He eventually returned with the figures of 2 for 20, best by a Kiwi in the match.
During the Kiwi chase, Sri Lanka looked right at the top after the powerplay overs as they reduced the Kiwis to 39 for 3 when Ross Taylor walked in. His presence immediately resulted in a different approach as the duo brought down the required run rate down to near eight runs an over, which was earlier hovering around 11. The dismissal of Ross Taylor could have been game-changing, but Mitchell Santner and Daryl Mitchell played beautifully to take the visitors home with a quick-fire 31-run stand.
Tim Seifert, Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Tom Bruce, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Daryl Mitchell, TG Southee, IS Sodhi, Seth Rance, Scott Kuggeleijn.
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The two teams were so close in the first match in the two departments of the game that it was the fielding which separated the two sides. The drop of Ross Taylor proved costly to the hosts and they'll undoubtedly be looking to improve their fielding. Just when the things got close, the Kiwis held their nerve and eventually ended up on top. Sri Lanka's inexperience was truly apparent as they failed to seal the deal despite being in positions to dictate terms on multiple occasions. The second match of the series is expected to be tight as well and the team that holds its nerve is likely to emerge triumphant. The Kiwis have more depth in batting and are coming off a confidence-boosting win, and are, therefore, firm favorites to emerge on top in the upcoming fixture.
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