New Zealand made an emphatic statement in their opening World Cup match as they hammered former champions Sri Lanka by 98 runs in Christchurch on Saturday.
The Kiwis, who are third favourites to win the event, were sent in to bat by Sri Lanka, but the decision backfired spectacularly. New Zealand belted 77 off their first 10 overs and 102 in their last 10 at the Hagley Oval.
The finished their 50 overs on 331 for 6, with Brendon McCullum (65 off 49 balls) and Corey Anderson (75 off 46 balls) accelerating the scoring at the start and end of the innings.
It left Sri Lanka chasing 332, which was always going to be a tough task and they finally signed off on 233 all out in 46.1 overs. However, they had started well, with Lahiru Thirimanne (65 off 60) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (24 off 41) putting on 67 for the first wicket in 13 overs. Thirimanne was second man out with the score on 124 in the 22nd over, but from then on wickets tumbled at regular intervals.
Lasith Malinga, returning to ODI cricket for the first time since undergoing ankle surgery in September, showed the effects of his layoff in spraying the ball around and conceding 84 from his 10 overs, and his new-ball and death-overs partner Nuwan Kulasekara took even more punishment, leaking 78 in eight.
Sri Lanka’s fielding did them no favours either. Four catches went down. McCullum had flat-batted both opening bowlers for fours through the covers in the first couple of overs.
Malinga’s radar, though, was all over the place, and McCullum dispatched two full-tosses to the leg-side boundary in the eighth over. In between, Malinga sent down a no-ball on the pads, which McCullum clipped for another four, and a slower-ball free-hit right in the slot for McCullum to clear his front leg and launch for a straight six. Twenty three runs came off that over, and McCullum had scored 22 of them – only Virat Kohli has scored more in an over against Malinga.
Anderson and Luke Ronchi plundered 50 runs from the last 27 balls to reach a total that proved way beyond Sri Lanka’s reach.