New Zealand A have ended the unbeaten tour record of their Sri Lankan counterparts with a clinical eight-wicket win in their one-day clash in Christchurch on Monday.
Set 215 to win at Hagley Oval after opting to bowl first, NZ A timed their pursuit to perfection, with Central Districts left hander George Worker led the chase with an aggressive unbeaten 83 from 86 balls.
NZ A reached 216 for two midway through the 40th over. Henry Nicholls was the other not out batsman on 27.
Former test opener Hamish Rutherford, who was dismissed cheaply in Sri Lanka A’s tour-opening double header against a NZC winter training squad, provided the early impetus with a free-flowing 43 from just 35 deliveries.
Rutherford set the tone with seven boundaries before Michael Pollard and Worker combined to post 117 for the second wicket as the Sri Lankan bowlers were unable to exert pressure for the first time during their six-match, Christchurch-based tour.
Pollard, who took 76 from the Sri Lankan attack in the tour opener last week, brought up his half century from 67 balls. Worker was swifter to the milestone in 53 deliveries that included five boundaries and a six.
He added two more boundaries and a six on the home stretch.
Sri Lanka A made a solid start after being asked to bat first in chilly conditions but once Dhanushka Gunathilake (57) and Kithuruwan Vithanage (58) added 95 for the second wicket New Zealand’s spin attack of Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi took control.
Leg spinner Sodhi removed the well-set duo and claimed the vital wicket of in-form all-rounder Shehan Jayasuriya (25 from 26 balls) just as he was getting into his stride.
Left arm spinner Santner then broke through at regular intervals – he was on a hat-trick after dismissing Niroshan Dickwella and Dananjaya de Silva in successive balls – and eventually recorded excellent figures of 4-38 from his 10 overs.
Sodhi, who claimed 3-28 from 10, was the most economical bowler as Sri Lanka A struggled to up the ante for the first time on tour – they lost their last five wickets for just 12 runs, the rot setting in from the penultimate ball of the 39th over.
The teams play the second match of their four-game series at the same venue on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka A 214 all out, 45.3 overs (Kithuruwan Vithanage 58, Dhanushka Gunathilake 57; Mitchell Santner 4-38, Ish Sodhi 3-28) lost to NZ A 216-2 in 39.3 overs (George Worker 83*, Michael Pollard 59, Hamish Rutherford 43) by 8 wkts at Hagley Oval. (Courtesy Stuff.co.nz)