Playing their first game as a team post Brendon McCullum’s retirement, New Zealand showed little discomfort as they swept aside Sri Lanka in their first World T20 warm-up game at Wankhede stadium on Thursday.
New Zealand’s batsmen did not let McCullum’s absence be felt as Colin Munro (67) and Corey Anderson (60) laid into the Sri Lanka bowlers to help them pile on a mammoth 226 for four.
Chasing a steep target, Sri Lanka could only manage 152 for seven as New Zealand sealed the first of their two warm-up games by 74 runs to get their World T20 campaign off to a winning start.
In January, when McCullum had announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket, his decision to not play the World T20 was a bit perplexing. New Zealand, who have been on an upward curve since the past two years, came close last year to winning their first world event after reaching the final of the 50-over World Cup. With a formidable side that includes a good mix of big hitters and an equally effective bowling lineup, the side was poised to bridge the gap and go all the way in the T20 version of the World Cup.
McCullum’s decision to call time early has left a void for New Zealand cricket fans. The members of the team though seem adamant on dispelling any such notions.
On Thursday, New Zealand’s batsmen kept the fours and sixes ticking. Munro and Anderson were particularly harsh smashing the inexperienced Sri Lanka bowling, under-strength after pace spearhead Lasith Malinga’s latest injury lay-off.
In one particular over, Munro smashed young Dasun Shanaka for four successive sixes. While he could not quite make it a perfect over, the manner in which the sixes were hit did give a glimpse of what the team has in store for the tournament.
The tournament offers a first challenge for the McCullum-less New Zealand outfit a chance to prove their might. Their former skipper through his personality and leadership had given the world a new brand of aggressive, care-free cricket. Under Kane Williamson it now has chance to go further and the World T20 could be an ideal platform for them to reach higher.
“Brendon was very expressional as a leader both on and off the field. It’s an exciting challenge. The team has come along a long way in recent years. We are a good mix of youth and experience. It makes for an exciting side,” Williamson had said.