Mitchell McClenaghan

Mitchell McClenaghan (L) picked up Tillakaratne Dilshan in his third over © Getty Images

By Sarang Bhalerao

Cardiff: Jun 9, 2013
 
New Zealand bundled out Sri Lanka for only 138 in 37.5 overs in a Group A match of the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 in Cardiff on Sunday. Mitchell McClenaghan was the pick of the bowler. He picked up four wickets.

Kumar Sangakkara top-scored with 68 when rest of the batting struggled against disciplined New Zealand bowling.

New Zealand started off in the best possible manner by getting rid of Kusal Perera off the first delivery of the match. Kyle Mills bowled a back of the length delivery which moved a trifle after pitching and had Perera poking at it. The ball took his outside edge and flew towards the left of second-slip. Captain Brendon McCullum flew to his left like a football goalkeeper and held on to a stunning catch.

Left arm pacer McClenaghan, who opened the bowling with Mills, bowled a few benign deliveries to opener Tillakaratne Dilshan. The Sri Lankan opener punished those deliveries — the full ball was hit down the ground, the short ball was pulled past square-leg boundary, the over-pitched ball was creamed through covers. But McClenaghan produced a fuller length delivery that came back in slightly, which went through Dilshan’s bat and pad and cannoned onto the stumps. New Zealand made early in-roads. The onus of resurrection of the innings was with two experienced duos — Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

McCullum introduced Daniel Vettori, who was playing his first ODI match after two years, against Jayawardene. The move worked straightaway. Off the third ball of his spell, Vettori produced a snorter — a ball which after pitching spun sharply beating Jayawardene. Vettori followed it up by tossing up a delivery which after pitching held its line. Jayawardene played for the turn and missed the line of the ball. The ball thud on his pads and he was adjudged leg-before for four. To compound the matter Dinesh Chandimal played a loose drive in the next over off Mills and was out caught-behind for naught.

At that point they were reeling at 38 for four in nine overs. Angelo Mathews joined Sangakkara. The duo played cautiously. New Zealand were tightening the screws, there were no freebies. Just when the fifth wicket partnership of 31 seemed like weathering the storm, McClenagham, against the run of play, dismissed Mathews.

Mathews looked like holding up one end but he exposed his leg-stump trying to work McClenagham towards square-leg. He [Mathews] missed the ball and was out bowled.

Lahiru Thirimanne was last of the recognized batsman. The scoring rate had dipped. New Zealand employed an attacking field. They looked in pursuit of wickets. Sangakkara looked confident, unlike rest of his teammates. Thirimanne was still scratchy.

In the 27th over, there was a total communication breakdown between the Sri Lankans. Sangakkara punched part-time off-spinner Kane Williamson through covers and started to run before realizing that the fielder had the ball in control. Martin Guptill dived and fielded the ball. Thirimanne, in the meanwhile, set out for a run. Both the batsmen were stranded at the strikers end and Thirimanne was run-out.

All-rounder Thisara Perera curbed his natural instincts. B McCullum was had fielders up in the circle for him. Sangakkara was flourishing at the other end. He brought up his half-century and needed support at the other end.

It was only a matter of time before T Perera attempted a big shot. He executed it in the 34th over off McClenagham but he mistimed it offering a catch to Vettori who ran back from mid-on and held on to it. In the next over, Sri Lanka took the Batting Powerplay but the preservation of wickets was of paramount importance.

Rangana Herath played an exquisite cover-drive off Tim Southee which calmed the Sri Lankan nerves. But in the next over, Sangakkara tried to hit N McCullum inside-out and was beaten by the bounce on the ball. He mistimed the ball and was caught at backward point. Shaminda Eranga was dismissed in the same over trying to breakfree. The big hit failed to clear long-on.

Lasith Malinga was dismissed in the next over off McClenaghan. Sri Lanka were bowled out inside 50 overs — which is considered cardinal sin in cricket.

Earlier, Sri Lanka won the toss on a bright Cardiff morning, and chose to bat first in the second Group A encounter of the Champions Trophy. Expected the pitch to aid some turn New Zealand fielded two spinners — Vettori and Nathan McCullum. Grant Elliot did not make the cut in the playing XI.
 
New Zealand bolstered their bowling with Kane Williamson and McCullum filling in the role of the fifth bowler. Sri Lanka went in with just three specialist bowlers —Lasith Malinga was one of them. Shaminda Eranga was selected ahead of Nuwan Kulasekara and Rangana Herath, the conventional spinner was chosen over mystery spinner Sachithra Senanayake. Thisara Perera and Angelo Mathews — are expected to bowl the remaining quota of overs.

The last time New Zealand beat Sri Lanka was in 2009 edition of the Champions Trophy. Will they end the draught at Cardiff on Sunday?

Brief Scores:

Sri Lanka 138 in 37. 5 overs (Kumar Sangakkara 68; Mitchell McGlenaghan 4 for 43) vs New Zealand.

Full Scorecard

(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)