New Zealand all-rounders Doug Bracewell and Scott Kuggeleijn earned the Black Caps a 35-run victory over Sri Lanka in the one-off T20I that brought the curtain down on Sri Lanka’s miserable tour Down Under, writes ANITHA MADIKIZELA.
Having won the toss and elected to bowl first, Sri Lanka made an explosive start with the ball, ripping through New Zealand’s top order to reduce them to 27-4 within the first four overs. Lasith Malinga (2-24 in four overs) opened the bowling alongside Kasun Rajitha. The two rocked the home side early on and were looking on course to bowl the hosts out cheaply when New Zealand slumped to 55-5 after 10 overs.
Up stepped Bracewell as he joined Ross Taylor (33 off 37 balls, 2×4, 1×6) at the crease for the fightback. Bracewell took on the Sri Lankan bowlers as he smashed one four and five fantastic sixes during the tail-end of the innings.
Kuggeleijn joined the party following Taylor’s dismissal in the 15th over and partnered Bracewell in an explosive 41-run stand for the seventh wicket in less than two overs. Kuggeleijn showed no nerves on his debut as he smashed an unbeaten 35 off just 15 deliveries that included one four and four mammoth sixes.
The two were going well until the 18th over when Rajitha broke the partnership by dismissing Bracewell on 44 off 26 balls, caught just inside the long-on boundary with the batsman going for another big shot. Rajitha finished with figures of 3-44 as the Black Caps posted a competitive 179-7.
The visitors’ chase never really got going as they lost wickets regularly throughout their innings. Kusal Perera (23 off 12 balls, 3×4 1×6) and Thisara Perera – who struck a defiant 43 off 24 balls, including two fours and three sixes – were the pick of the Sri Lankan batsmen against the wily New Zealand bowlers.
Unfortunately, no other notable contributions came from the Lankans, with Lockie Ferguson (3-21 in three overs) and Ish Sodhi (3-30 off 3.5 overs) causing most of the damage to the Lions’ batting order.
Sri Lanka only managed 144 all out in response as they were bowled out within 17 overs, falling 35 runs short of the Black Caps’ total.
The loss sees Sri Lanka end their tour of New Zealand with series defeats in all three formats due to disappointing displays with both bat and ball. They will hope to improve drastically on their form heading into the two-match Test series against Australia if they hope to become the second Asian team to win a Test series Down Under.
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