SRI LANKA 287-6 (Kumar Sangakkara 113*, Tillakaratne Dilshan 81, Corey Anderson 3-59, Tim Southee 2-50) beat the BLACKCAPS 253 all out by 34 runs (Kane Williamson 54, Luke Ronchi 47, Daniel Vettori 35) at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Sri Lanka has finished the ANZ ODI Series on a high note, defeating the BLACKCAPS in a closely-fought match by 34 runs tonight in Wellington.
The BLACKCAPS, who had already won the ANZ International Series 4-1, came up short in the final ANZ ODI at Westpac Stadium as they looked to chase down Sri Lanka’s total of 287-6 that was set up by a superb Kumar Sangakkara century.
The Sri Lankan legend became the highest runs scorer in ODI history for his country going past Sanath Jayasuriya and he did so in style with a 113 not out off 105 balls.
This loss will add huge interest to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 opener at Hagley Oval on February 14, where Sri Lanka will welcome back speedster Lasith Malinga and fancy their chances of spoiling the party for the hosts.
The hosts, without skipper Brendon McCullum, got off to a forgettable start when Martin Guptill departed first ball and fellow opener Tom Latham (6) followed soon after.
The succession of regular dismissals – including Ross Taylor (11) and Grant Elliott (24) – negated any flow in the run chase. In the end, the task proved too great for the tail.
Stand-in captain Kane Williamson (54) was once again the mainstay of the BLACKCAPS innings, but when he departed in the 28th over the Kiwis’ chances took a body blow.
All-rounder Corey Anderson, who earlier in the day impressed with the ball claiming three wickets, delivered a spirited cameo (29 from 20 balls), but his big hitting came undone in the 31st over.
Luke Ronchi, the hero from the 4th and 5th ANZ ODIs, was once again given the job of steering the BLACKCAPS home, but his dismissal after a whirlwind innings (47 from 42 balls) was a big moment even with some vintage batting from Daniel Vettori (35 from 30 balls).
Kyle Mills (30 from 17 balls) and Mitchell McClenaghan showed some real grit in the end and kept the faint hopes of a come-from-behind win alive. Mills delivered some fabulous shot making in the 10th wicket partnership before he was run out in 46th over.
Three Sri Lankan bowlers – Kulasekara, Eranga and Chameera – claimed two wickets apiece in an improved effort with the ball.
Earlier, the BLACKCAPS bowling attack fought back superbly to restrict Sri Lanka to 287-6 at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
It looked as if the home team would have to chase down a total in excess of 300, but the bowling in the middle of the innings and at the death kept the total within striking distance.
Tim Southee was a key man in thwarting Sri Lanka’s momentum. The BLACKCAPS opening bowler delivered a spirited spell in the middle of the innings where he claimed the wickets of Tillakaratne Dilshan (81) and Mahela Jayawardene (14) to turn the match.
Veteran Kyle Mills, who is pressing hard for his inclusion in the first choice line-up of seamers, also got Seekkuge Prassana (1) cheaply when the BLACKCAPS reviewed an LBW decision.
All-rounder Corey Anderson also showed his value at the death. He chipped in with the dismissal of Dinesh Chandimal (5) and livewire Perera (20 off 12 balls) to keep the momentum with the BLACKCAPS. Earlier, Anderson picked up the wicket of skipper Lahiru Thirimanne to halt the promising start made by Sri Lanka to the final match of the ANZ International Series.
All of a sudden, after a promising start from the Lions, the BLACKCAPS were back in control.
In the opening exchanges, the BLACKCAPS toiled hard without reward. The most notable chance came when Thirimanne, who had won the toss and elected to bat, was lucky to escape being caught behind on 4. The snicko-meter showed a faint edge, but the BLACKCAPS didn’t review the appeal.
The Lions’ score was built by their usual suspects with Kumar Sangakkara (113* off 105 balls), and Dilshan (81) providing the bulk of the runs.
The left-hander Sangakkara, who became the highest runs scorer in ODI history for Sri Lanka in his innings, was at his imperious best, and controlled the pace of the innings superbly.
Sangakkara had earlier gone past Jayasuriya to become the third-highest run-scorer in ODIs, but Sangakkara had played four matches for Asia XI and three for ICC World XI, in which he had scored a total of 259 runs.
It was fitting that he brought up three figures, in better than run- a-ball-fashion, on a day where he rewrote the record books for his country in ODIs.
Sangakkara nudged the ball around nervously in his nineties and then broke the shackles with a forthright pull shot through midwicket to complete his 21st ODI century. He finished the innings in a flourish with two boundaries in the final three balls.
The BLACKCAPS were the dominant side in the ANZ ODI Series, winning 4-2, but the Sri Lankans were the better side on the final match and will take heart from this performance.
The BLACKCAPS will face Pakistan in a two match ANZ ODI Series on Saturday and Tuesday to complete their preparation for the ICC World Cup which begins on February 14.