De Grandhomme, Bruce fifties lead New Zealand to series win

Half-centuries from Colin de Grandhomme and Tom Bruce helped New Zealand to a four-wicket win against Sri Lanka on Tuesday, sealing a T20I series win for the Black Caps.

The pair put on 109 for New Zealand’s fourth wicket in a chase of 162, and while both fell before the winning runs were hit, they were at the heart of a series-sealing win.

Lasith Malinga won the toss and elected to bat first. Tim Southee was economical up top, but it was his new-ball partner Seth Rance that made the opening breakthrough, a slower ball accounting for the removal of Kusal Mendis.

Ish Sodhi cleaned up Kusal Perera a couple of overs later, and at 48/2 after eight overs, Sri Lanka’s innings looked devoid of any real intent.

But a couple of boundaries from Sodhi’s second over opened things up for the two adventurous batsmen at the crease: Avishka Fernando and Niroshan Dickwella.

The pair put on 68 from 44 balls to give Sri Lanka a solid platform for a final flourish, and while New Zealand’s bowlers made regular breakthroughs, small cameos from Shehan Jayasuriya (20 from 13 balls), Wanindu Hasaranga (11 from seven) and Isuru Udana (13 from eight), took Sri Lanka to a competitive score of 161/9.

An injury to Martin Guptill saw Tim Seifert open alongside Colin Munro. But while New Zealand’s top-order showed aggression, Akila Dananjaya ripped through them to leave New Zealand 38/3 after 3.4 overs.

De Grandhomme and Bruce took over from there. Bruce ran hard, while De Grandhomme was typically aggressive, striking three maximums to go alongside his two boundaries.

With 15 required, De Grandhomme’s attempt to go big over extra cover resulted in a safe catch into the hands of Avishka Fernando, and with Bruce struggling physically as the match entered its final stages, it appeared Sri Lanka were on for a heist.

Two wickets from the first two balls of the final over made things even nervier; Hasaranga first cleverly ran out Bruce before Daryl Mitchell found long-on from the next delivery. But Mitchell Santner struck an unusual six as two fielders collided on the boundary, and the left-hander then hit a boundary to wrap up the win and take New Zealand to an unassailable 2-0 series lead.

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