JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, CMC – New Zealand revived their semi-final hopes yesterday when captain Daniel Vettori delivered a sturdy all-round performance that helped set up a 38-run upset victory over Sri Lanka in their ICC Champions Trophy Group B match.
Sent to bat, New Zealand – on the back of an awesome half century at the top of the innings by Jesse Ryder – compiled 315 for seven of their 50 overs and then restricted the Sri Lankans to 277 all out in 46.4 overs at New Wanderers Stadium.
Vettori struck 48 to rally the New Zealanders after a middle-order collapse and then bagged two wickets with his left-arm spin to help stifle Sri Lanka’s run chase.
Anxious to rebound from their heavy opening match loss – by five wickets — to South Africa last Thursday, the Black Caps got off to a solid start with Brendon McCullum and Ryder smashing a century first-wicket stand. Ryder, who suffered a groin injury during his innings, belted 10 fours and one six in a 58-ball 74 before falling – caught behind — to pacer Nuwan Kulasekera at 125 for one in the 20th over.
McCullum followed quickly at 128 for two for 46 with five fours.
The pair’s departure triggered a significant decline in New Zealand’s innings as they lost four wickets for 15 runs in four overs and dipped to by 140 for four.
They plunged further to 161 for five when the veteran Sanath Jayasuriya sent back Neil Broom for 15.
Captain Danny Vettori linked up with Martin Guptill and revived the innings with a 69-run sixth-wicket stand.
Vettori struck 48 off 44 balls with four fours and a six and Guptill stroked a solid 66 off 76 balls with three fours and a six.James Franklin (28) and Kyle Mills (18) propelled the innings past the 300-mark – and their highest ever total against Sri Lanka — with brisk, unbeaten knocks at the end.Jayasuriya led the Sri Lankan bowling with three for 39 off 10 overs and Angelo Mathews picked up two for 33 off six.
Tillakaratne Dilshan (41) and Jayasuriya (24) gave Sri Lanka a promising start with a 66-run opening stand at better than run-a-ball rate.
Former captain Mahela Jayawardene top-scored with 77 off 85 balls but Vettori combined well with his fast bowlers to secure regular wickets and Sri Lanka’s threat gradually dissipated.
Kulasekara ignited Sri Lanka’s innings at the end with an unbeaten 57 off 56 balls with two fours and four sixes, his maiden ODI fifty, but New Zealand defended their total and picked up the winning points.
Opening bowler Mills claimed three for 39 off his 10 overs to be New Zealand’s chief wicket-taker while Tuffey (2-39), James Franklin (2-40) and Vettori (2-45) shared six wickets to sink the Sri Lankans, who omitted out-of-form spinner Muttiah Muralitharan from their line-up.
Sri Lanka were suffering their second successive defeat – they lost Friday to England — and their hopes of progress now depend on England winning their remaining games.