Sri Lanka vs New Zealand (Champions Trophy)

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Kiwis put misfiring Sri Lanka on the brink of a surprise exit

jesse-ryderThis is becoming the Group of shocks, with only the South African defeat of New Zealand going by the formbook. The Kiwis recovered from that insipid performance by surprising Sri Lanka yesterday and handing Kumar Sangakkara’s men a second defeat in three days. How the high of beating South Africa in the tournament opener has faded away.

New Zealand now need to beat already qualified England tomorrow to progress to the semi-finals, which would mean the Sri Lankans taking an early flight home. An England win, on the other hand, would see Sri Lanka scrape through – who’d have thought that after Tillkaratne Dilshan’s blitz last Tuesday?

After winning the toss and batting. New Zealand moved serenely to 125/0 before losing four wickets in 24 balls to subside to 141/4 in the 24th over. Jesse Ryder hit a brutal fifty off only 28 balls, but not only was he the first man out for 76 when he edged behind off Kulasekara, but he also tore an abductor muscle to be ruled out of the rest of the tournament. Ryder’s opening partner Brendan McCullum (46) and then Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott followed quickly to put Sri Lanka right back into the game.

Despite losing Neil Broom soon after, Martin Guptill (66) was joined by skipper Daniel Vettori (48) and they set about restoring New Zealand’s advantage with a crucial partnership of 69. After Vettori had gone, the recalled James Franklin contributed a useful 28 from 21 balls to help New Zealand to 315/7 from their 50 overs.

Sri Lanka’s opening pair of Dilshan and Sanath Jayasuriya refused to be intimidated by the size of their target and raced to 66 before falling in quick succession – Jayasuriya for 24 off just 18 balls and Dilshan for 41 off 31. With them though went their team’s momentum and they soon slipped to 141/6 before Mahela Jayawardene (77) and Nuwan Kulasekara (57 not out) briefly gave Sri Lanka hope. It was not to be though and they were eventually all out for 277 with 3.2 overs of their innings still to go.

For New Zealand, the wickets were shared around with all but Shane Bond taking a wicket. Kyle Mills took 3/69 but Vettori was the pick with 2/45, which when added to his innings of 48 deservedly gave him the man of the match award.

So, it’s now England tomorrow for New Zealand, with victory required to secure their passage to the semi-finals. Confidence will be high given their good recent record against England – although this will be muted by England’s surprisingly good start to the competition.

Match 7: Group B – Johannesburg New Zealand 315/7 (50 overs) Ryder 76, Guptill 66, Vettori 48, McCullum 46, Jayasuriya 3/39 beat Sri Lanka 277 all out (46.4 overs) Jayawardene 77, Kulasekara 57 not out, Dilshan 41, Mills 3/69 by 38 runs

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