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Lanka survive late scare to beat New Zealand

Sri Lanka huffed and puffed to a three-wicket win over New Zealand in the second ODI of the cricket tri-series and helped India reclaim the second spot in the ICC ODI team rankings, in Dambulla, reports Amol Karhadkar.

cricket Updated: Aug 14, 2010 02:30 IST
Amol Karhadkar

Had the Sri Lankan batsmen not committed hara-kiri in attempting to earn a bonus point, they would have cruised to a seven-wicket victory over New Zealand in their maiden appearance in the tri-series on Friday.

Instead, the late spree of wickets meant the Dambulla residents, who finally woke up to the tri-series and flocked to the stadium, returned home tensed after having a ball throughout the day.

Once Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews had restricted Ross Taylor and Co., who had made a sensational start to their campaign annihilating India by 200 runs, to a modest 192, the host always had their eye on overhauling the target in 40 overs and earning the additional point.

And at the end of the 34th over, they looked well on course. With 50 needed off six overs for earning the bonus, Upul Tharanga and Thilan Samaraweera opted for the batting powerplay.

Having garnered 19 off the first two overs, the powerplay appeared to be very well timed. But then came the turnaround. Once Tharanga perished while trying to clear the cover boundary, the Lankan middle order started crumbling. In 15 balls, the Lankans lost four wickets for 18 runs, creating some panic.

However, Samaraweera ensured that even though they lost out on the bonus, the hosts had four points for the victory. He ensured a three-wicket victory, set up by Tharanga's 85-run partnership for the second wicket, for them in the 41st over.

Earlier in the afternoon, having hardly faced Malinga, it was going to be an uphill task for the Kiwis if they were to repeat their heroics against India with the bat. But the slinger struck in the first over, removing Guptill off only the third ball --- his second legal delivery since the first ball he bowled was a no-ball --- to offer a hint of what was in store for the New Zealanders. Angelo Mathews's double blow in the 11th over then put the Kiwis on the back-foot. The all-rounder, first trapped Taylor in front of the wicket and, two balls later, lured rookie Kane Williamson to edge one to the first slip.

Though Bradley-John Watling scored a classy fifty on debut, he attempted an ambitious pull off Mathews to offer Kumar Sangakkara a skier. Malinga then got rid of Gareth Hopkins and Daryl Tuffey off successive deliveries in his second spell to ensure the hosts did not have to chase a target in excess of 200.