Dominant New Zealand complete 3-0 sweep vs Sri Lanka
Ross Taylor’s 20th ton in a record streak of six successive fifty-plus scores – joint second best in ODIs – and Henry Nicholls’s explosive 124 for his maiden ODI century set up New Zealand’s 115-run win in the third ODI in Nelson on Tuesday (January 8), helping them clean-sweep the three-match ODI series.
Taylor was the common feature in two century stands – 116 with Kane Williamson followed by a 154-run stand with Nicholls that helped New Zealand post a mammoth 364 for 4. In reply, Sri Lanka’s top order got off to promising starts but none of the batsmen could make a substantial contribution. Despite his best efforts, Thisara Perera (80) had a lot to do towards the business end of the match as Sri Lanka’s win-less run in New Zealand in this series continued.
Sri Lanka began the chase in a positive manner as Dhananjaya de Silva – one of three inclusions for Sri Lanka in this game along with Dushmantha Chameera and Dasun Shanaka – dealt in regular boundaries in a 66-run stand with Niroshan Dickwella before being trapped in front by Tim Southee. As has been the case with Sri Lanka’s earlier outings with the bat, one dismissal led to many. Sri Lanka slipped to 117 for 4, losing three wickets for only 10 runs with Dickwella falling four short of a fifty, Kusal Mendis run out without facing a ball and Shanaka trapped in front by Ish Sodhi.
The onus was on the Pereras to revive Sri Lanka’s chase that was in tatters again. But the partnership lasted less than six overs as Kusal Perera was dismissed by Lockie Ferguson and wasted a review in the process. With the required rate crossing nine just after the halfway stage of the innings, and Danushka Gunathilaka taking his time to get going after being moved down the order, Thisara had to take the initiative to keep Sri Lanka in the hunt. He was a bit more measured in this innings as compared to the previous one but managed to get to his half-century off 42 balls to bring down the equation to 156 off 16 overs.
Put down by ‘keeper Tim Seifert off Sodhi when he was on 62, and later by Taylor on 74, Thisara helped raise a century stand with Gunathilaka. However, the dropped chances didn’t do much damage to New Zealand as Martin Guptill held on to a one-handed catch diving back after Thisara had miscued a cut off Ferguson. The wicket sealed Sri Lanka’s fate in the match as Ferguson and Sodhi cleaned up the tail, sharing seven wickets between them.
Earlier, opting to bowl, Lasith Malinga gave Sri Lanka the kind of start they were hoping for by dismissing the openers in quick succession. The bowlers operating from the at the other, however, weren’t as disciplined as the experienced pacer, allowing Taylor and Williamson to capitalise. Even when they improved in terms of bowling discipline as the innings progressed, Williamson was quick to transfer the pressure back on them with his calculated stroke-play and timely boundaries.
With Taylor too contributed his bit in his 12th century partnership with Williamson, things were looking a bit glum for the visitors until Lakshan Sandakan tempted Williamson into a slog-sweep to pick up his first wicket of the series. But the wicket did little to improve Sri Lanka’s position as Nicholls proved an able partner for Taylor in another strong partnership that rebuilt the platform for New Zealand. While Nicholls scored most of the boundaries initially, Taylor was quick to catch up and in the process he raised his bat for his third century in his last eight innings.
Malinga had kept half his quota of overs for the death but that didn’t make much of a difference. Having cleared the fence four times off Malinga, a fifth such attempt resulted in the dismissal of Taylor in the 47th over. But the sixes did not cease with that as Nicholls struck one off Malinga in the penultimate over of the innings to register a 71-ball ton, followed by a six off Neesham’s bat as the bowler finished with 3 for 93 from his 10 overs – his second most expensive spell. With three more fours and a six off Pradeep in the final over, Nicholls finished unbeaten in his 80-ball stay that included 12 fours and three sixes.
Brief scores: New Zealand 364/4 in 50 overs (Ross Taylor 137, Henry Nicholls 124*, Kane Williamson 55; Lasith Malinga 3-93) beatSri Lanka 249 in 41.4 overs (Thisara Perera 80, Niroshan Dickwella 46; Lockie Ferguson 4-40, Ish Sodhi 3-40) by 115 runs.