Sri Lanka sauntered to their first victory of the New Zealand tour, afterTillakaratne Dilshan hit a breezy 116 off 127 balls on a fine batting surface at Seddon Park. The six-wicket win had been forged by the spin bowlers – Dilshan among them – who delivered 37 overs between them, and by New Zealand’s several indiscretions between the wickets. A target of 249 never looked a testing on a pitch that offered little in the way of seam or turn, and thanks to Dilshan, Sri Lanka were in control for the entire duration of their chase.
New Zealand losing four wickets to run outs will be cause for concern, but their batting was also ineffective, except for Brendon McCullum, who struck a supercharged 117 from 99. Of the other top-six batsmen, only Ross Taylor had made more than 10, and his contribution had been a pained 34 from 69 balls. Once Sri Lanka dismissed McCullum, four more wickets fell in eight overs, effectively scuttling the hosts’ chances of posting a competitive score.
Dilshan began the chase by collecting an easy four to fine leg in the third over, but was very nearly out for 6 in the next, when a Matt Henry delivery jagged in sharply off the seam to collect his inside edge. Luke Ronchi couldn’t hold on to a tough chance to his left and Dilshan profited from his luck.
He dismissed Adam Milne down the ground in the fifth over and initiated the theme of his innings: his driving, in the arc between cover and mid-on. Dilshan sent one screaming past the bowler in Milne’s next over as well, and hung back next ball to cut viciously to third man when the change of length came.
Sri Lanka cruised through their batting Powerplay with Dimuth Karunaratne making a good start as well. He was eventually trapped in front by Nathan McCullum for 21, but the chase would stay on track. Kumar Sangakkara launched three hits over the straight fence to kick-start his innings, and was the aggressor in a 52-run second-wicket stand with Dilshan.