ICC Champions Trophy 2013: New Zealand win cliffhanger by 1 wicket despite Lasith Malinga's heroics

Brendon McCullum scored 18 priceless runs for New Zealand © Getty Images

By Sarang Bhalerao

Cardiff: Jun 9, 2013
New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by one wicket in a thrilling Group A encounter of ICC Champions Trophy 2013 in Cardiff on Sunday. Lasith Malinga‘s heroics — four wickets went in vain.

Sri Lanka fought hard in pursuit of defending a paltry total of 138. Having finished their innings in 37.5 overs, Sri Lanka had to bowl six overs before mid-innings break. They were desperate to seek an early breakthrough. Opening bowlers — Malinga and Shaminda Eranga gave everything they had. Eranga got out-of-form Luke Ronchi for seven. The delivery was bowled in good length and Ronchi tried to push the ball towards off-side without moving his feet. The extra bounce had him in trouble and Sri Lanka got what they desired before the break.

After the interval, in-form Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson looked comfortable in the middle. Guptill, in particular, looked positive. He drove Malinga down the ground with élan and the next delivery was pulled behind square-leg. But just when the things looked under control for New Zealand, Sri Lanka got them in a quandary. Malinga hoodwinked Williamson with a slower delivery that dipped and struck the batsman on the full, on his pads. Williamson challenged on-field umpire’s call but it turned out to be futile as the third umpire upheld the original decision.

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews kept pressure on the incoming batsman Ross Taylor by placing an attacking field off the bowling of Rangana Herath. The left-arm spinner bowled a delivery that held its line after pitching, much like how Daniel Vettori had dismissed Mahela Jayawardene in the first-half. Taylor played for the turn, which was absent and the ball thrust on his pads. He was caught plumb in front.

Mathews then introduced Eranga for his second spell. He got the prized scalp of Guptill off the very first delivery. The sharp short delivery caught well-set Guptill by surprise, who was looking to defend the ball off the backfoot. The ball flew off the edge and Jayawardene took an overhead catch in the first-slip. At this point New Zealand had two new batsmen — James Franklin and Brendon McCullum, who had not faced any delivery, at the crease. The duo looked to counter-attack.

McCullum in particular was trying to put Herath off his length. He tried to execute a reverse-sweep off the first ball he faced of Herath. In the next over the duo attacked Eranga. McCullum drove him through covers for a boundary, while Franklin hit a boundary courtesy of a backfoot punch that peppered the off-side field. The batsmen were looking comfortable against the quick bowlers. Herath looked like taking a wicket. Seeing the effectiveness of Herath, Mathews gave the ball to his part-time off-spinner Tillakaratne Dilshan.

Franklin employed a sweep-shot against Dilshan as a bail-out option. The ball hit his glove and there was a loud appeal. Franklin survived the close leg-before shout. He missed the next delivery, failing to gauge the lack of spin on the ball. Dilshan trapped Franklin, and Sri Lanka’s hopes of defending 138 grew.

Experienced all-rounder Daniel Vettori joined B McCullum. In Malinga’s comeback over [20th of the innings], Vettori was beaten by a slower delivery. He was declared out leg-before but replays suggested Vettori had got a thin inside-edge. New Zealand rued wasting a review earlier. The onus of resurrecting the innings and paving a road for victory was on McCullum brothers — Brendon and Nathan.

Nathan used the policy of ‘attack is the best form of defence.’ He didn’t want to get tied down. Nathan used his feet against Herath and chipped him over mid-on. He was playing his shots. Sri Lanka were waiting for an opportunity. Eranga, who had Ronchi and Guptill courtesy of steep bounce, was brought back. Nathan scored a couple of boundaries off his second over of his third spell. The required runs were under 30.

Mathews went for the final roll of the dice. He brought back Malinga in order to break the partnership. And that’s what happened. Brendon was befuddled off the slower ball and a swipe across the line from the New Zealand captain brought about his downfall.

In the next over, Malinga produced a lethal yorker which Nathan missed and he was adjudged leg-before. With 17 runs needed, New Zealand had lost eight wickets. It was up to the tailenders to take New Zealand home. The ninth wicket partnership added 12 runs.

Needing five to get, Tim Southee dug out Eranga’s yorker and went for a quick single. Thisara Perera aimed at the non-striker’s end but the ball missed it and instead hit the striker’s end. Interestingly, Kyle Mills was strolling and didn’t expect the ball to come towards his end.

With Mitchell McClenaghan walking up to the crease, Sri Lanka looked confident to wrap it up. But McClenaghan hung on and so did Tim Southee in Malinga’s final over. Mathews then brought Dilshan into bowl. The last pair for New Zealand was focused to strike the remaining runs and they managed to do so. McClenaghan tried to tuck a Dilshan delivery down the leg side as the ball missed his bat and went behind the wicket after deflecting from Sangakkara’s pads. The batsmen scrambled through for two before umpire declared it as wides and it was all over for Sri Lanka.

Read the first innings report here

Brief Scores:

Sri Lanka 138 in 37.5 overs (Kumar Sangakkara 68; Mitchell McClenaghan 4 for 43) lost to New Zealand 139 for 9 in 36.4 overs (Nathan McCullum 32, Martin Guptill 25; Lasith Malinga 4 for 34) by 1 wicket.

Man of the Match: Nathan McCullum

Full Scorecard

Photo Gallery

(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)