New Zealand vs Sri Lanka: Black Caps' big hitters blast past Sri Lanka as Lasith Malinga struggles

New Zealand win by 98 runs

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The Independent Online

New Zealand recorded a resounding 98-run win over Sri Lanka in the World Cup’s opening game, Brendon McCullum and Corey Anderson producing the destructive batting that has made the co-hosts one of the favourites for the title.

Sri Lanka put New Zealand in but soon regretted that decision as McCullum, the captain, scored 65 from 49 balls and shared a 111-run opening partnership with Martin Guptill. After their departure Kane Williamson added 57 to hold together the middle order before Anderson blasted 75 from 46 balls, with eight fours and two sixes, to lift New Zealand to 331 for 6.

Sri Lanka never challenged that total, and were bowled out for 233 in reply. The only bright note for them was that Kumar Sangakkara’s 39 moved him up to second in the list of run-makers in one-day internationals, above Ricky Ponting and below only Sachin Tendulkar.

New Zealand’s billing as genuine contenders to win the tournament is based chiefly on the power hitters sprinkled through their order, and on Saturday McCullum went on the attack from the outset, reaching his half-century from 35 balls with eight fours and a six. He particularly targeted Lasith Malinga, returning after an ankle injury and playing in his first official one-day international since August. McCullum struck four fours and a six – 23 runs in total – from the last over of Malinga’s opening spell, the bowler finishing with 0-84 from his 10 overs.

New Zealand’s innings stuttered briefly after Williamson and Ross Taylor both fell to the leg spin of Jeevan Mendis with the score on 193 before Anderson’s onslaught in the final overs. After lifting New Zealand past 300 with a six and adding 61 runs from the final five overs, he was out to the last ball of the innings.

Sri Lanka may have hoped their bowling attack would contain the Kiwis, allowing World Cup veterans Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene, to lead an effective run-chase. But the target was far too high. Opener Lahiru Thirimanne made 65, sharing partnerships of 65 for the first wicket with Dilshan (24) and 57 for the second with Sangakkara (39), but the Black Caps took wickets at vital times. Trent Boult dismissed Thirimanne and Sangakkara in the space of three overs, Daniel Vettori finished with 2-34 from his 10 overs and man-of-the-match Anderson also took two cheap wickets.

Sri Lanka next face Afghanistan in Dunedin on Saturday, and their captain ,Angelo Matthews, said: “We are not going to panic, we still have five games left.”