Mahela Jaywardene's breezy 81 went in vain as New Zealand made a winning start to their Twenty20 cricket World Cup campaign, beating Sri Lanka by two wickets in the thrilling inaugural match of the tournament in Guyana on Friday.
Sri Lanka rode on Jayawardene's career-best Twenty20 score, that came off just 51 balls, to post 135 for six. But Jesse Ryder's 27-ball 42 at the top and Nathan McCullum's (16 off 6) last over heroics sealed the match in favour of New Zealand in 19.5 overs.
With the equation out of their favour after losing all their top-order batsmen, the younger McCullum came up with a four and a six off Lasith Malinga in the final over to finish off the Kiwi run chase in style.
Earlier opening the attack, Nathan McCullum bowled cleverly to return with figures off one for 17 from his three overs.
Contrary to the result, New Zealand started their run chase on a disastrous note as Angelo Mathews bowled a brilliant wicket maiden first over.
Brendon McCullum's poor run with the bat continued as he mistimed one straight to Lasith Malinga off Mathews in the fourth ball of opening over.
The other Kiwi opener Jesse Ryder, however, went about his business in style, hitting three fours and two sixes en route his 27-ball innings.
He shared 62 runs with Martin Guptil (19 off 24) before two quick wickets brought Sri Lanka right back into the match.
Spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan broke the dangerous second-wicket partnership as he went through Ryder's defence.
Sanath Jayasuriya then made it double celebrations for the Lankans in the next over with a beautiful yorker that Guptil had no answer.
Muralitharan added another to his kitty when Ross Taylor's (9) slog-sweep landed on to the palms of Mathews.
However, it was the eventful 17th over from Mendis that threatened to change the course of the match.
Mendis started on a perfect note, cleaning up Scott Styris (17) in the second ball but with the wicket came in Jacob Oram (15 off 6), who clobbered the mystery spinner for consecutive sixes to pick up 15 runs off the over.
There was more drama stored for the match, as needing 20 runs off the last two overs, Kapugedera clean bowled Oram and then a desperate Gareth Hopkins was run out.
With 10 required of the last over, Nathan McCullum pulled off two magical strikes -- first a boundary and then a six --from his armour to pocket the nail-bitting match in his side's favour.