An abject Sri Lanka collapse full of witless batting, a clinical performance by New Zealand’s seamers, and a fast start from Martin Guptill, all featured in Sri Lanka’s final heavy defeat of the tour. Their embarrassment was enhanced a little here for having come in front of an Auckland crowd of over 17,000, and by Colin Munro, who bludgeoned the second-fastest half-century in T20s to close out a match that had never really been in doubt for New Zealand. He was unbeaten on 50 from 14 balls, having hit seven sixes and a four. Sri Lanka’s 142 for 8 on a flat track, and on one of the smallest grounds in the world, was gunned down with nine wickets and ten full overs to spare.
Seduced by the short boundaries, Sri Lanka’s batsmen aimed slog after slog at the straight fence, and fell predictably, and in quick succession. New Zealand put zippy balls just short of a length – a clear bowling plan, given the ground’s odd dimensions – and the visitors just failed to adapt. Grant Elliott was the most accurate bowler, and took 4 for 22 from his full quota, but so intent did Sri Lanka’s batsmen seem on holing out, almost anyone could have taken those wickets.
Angelo Mathews played a familiar lone hand, sporting a familiar look of frustration at his teammates’ incompetence. His 81 not out from 49 balls comprised well over half of Sri Lanka’s score. He was the only batsman to attempt to build an innings, instead of bash one. Sri Lanka also lost their top T20 ranking with this defeat, allowing West Indies to slide into the no. 1 position.
It’s not often that a batsman hitting 63 from 25 balls in a modest T20 chase will be outshone, but a rapid Guptill was made to look almost pedestrian by Munro. Having arrived at 89 for 1 in the seventh over, Munro blasted his second ball, off Thisara Perera, into the stands beyond wide long on, then savaged the legspin of Vandersay. Kane Williamson gave Munro the strike in the first ball of the eighth over, and he sent the ball hurtling over the deep midwicket boundary three times in four balls. That over cost 27. Having already been at the end of Guptill’s brutality, Vandersay had earlier bowled an over that conceded 20. His two overs went for 41. None of Sri Lanka’s four bowlers had an economy rate of less than 11.
Munro wrapped up the victory with a four and two more sixes in Dushmantha Chameera’s third over. He reached fifty and moved New Zealand to their target with his last six, over deep midwicket. His 14-ball half-century is only slower than Yuvraj Singh’s 12-ball fifty against England, in the 2007 World T20.
Sri Lanka’s spectacular nosedive began in the second over. Danushka Gunathilaka had earlier made room to scythe Adam Milne through the offside, but aimed an ungainly heave across the line soon after. The ball passed some distance from the bat and splayed his stumps.
At the other end, Dilshan was playing his own ugly innings, mistiming and top-edging slogs, and missing attempted scoops over the shoulder. But he survived longer than two incoming batsmen, which is to say, until the 10th over. Before Dilshan was out reverse-sweeping, for 28 from 26 balls, Dinesh Chandimal and Shehan Jayasuriya had both been caught attempting expansive strokes for 2 and 3 respectively.
Milinda Siriwardana – who has usually been an intelligent reprieve from Sri Lanka’s batting madness this tour – could not resist a slog himself as he was out first ball. He was caught just outside the circle at long on. With the score at 66 for 5 in the 11th over, Mathews might have expected a little help for rebuilding from Kithuruwan Vithanage and Thisara. They were both caught at the straight boundary for single figure scores, off Elliott’s bowling.
Mathews had moved his innings into gear with two straight sixes off the spin of Mitchell Santner, but largely respected the quicks until the back end of the innings. Even then, he picked the hittable deliveries intelligently. He launched Trent Boult down the ground in the 15th over, then when Boult return to close out the innings, Mathews made room and slapped him through the offside twice. By far the largest partnership of the innings was Mathews’ 39-run stand with no. 10 batsman Vandersay. (ESPN Cricinfo)