Four wickets from Matt Henry and fifties from Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum ensured New Zealand thrashed Sri Lanka in the opening ODI of the five-match series at Christchurch.
After winning the toss and deciding to bat, the visitors got off to the worst possible start as they lost their opening five wickets inside the first 10 overs. They managed to get the score past 100 thanks to fifties from Milinda Siriwardana and Nuwan Kulasekara, but 188 was never going to be enough and so it proved as the Kiwis won in just 21 overs.
New Zealand, who rested both Tim Southee and Trent Boult, got off a dream start thanks to Henry and Adam Milne, who ran through the Sri Lankan top order. Danushka Gunathilaka, who was playing in only his second ODI was the first to go, as he nicked Milne behind.
The next four wickets all fell to Henry, who bowled beautifully, to break the back of the Sri Lankan batting. Having lost four of their most experienced batters in Dilshan, Thirimanne, Chandimal and captain Angelo Mathews, it was always going to be difficult for the visitors to put up a decent total.
At 65-6 in the 18th over, it looked as though they might fail to get past 100. But a 98-run seventh wicket partnership between Siriwardana and Kulasekara ensured Sri Lanka crossed 150. But when Suranga Lakmal fell, the score read 188 on a pitch that was by no means a minefield.
The Kiwi openers were determined to prove just that as Guptill and McCullum treated the match like a T20 and began carving the bowlers to all corners of Christchurch. By the end of the 8th over, McCullum had already smashed a 23-ball fifty and the home side’s run rate was over 10.
Although the New Zealand skipper fell in the first ball of the 11th over, he had already ensured that the hosts were well on their way to a comfortable victory. His innings ended on 55 from just 25 balls, including 11 fours and a six with the score at 108.
Guptill then brought up his own fifty, with a boundary in the same over, off 39 balls. The hosts, who also rested Kane Williamson, saw Tom Latham come in at No.3 and take them within 27 points off the target.
Although both Latham and Guptill fell in the space of five balls, debutant Henry Nicholls saw his side home with an unbeaten 23 and ended the game with two successive boundaries in the 21st over.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 188 in 47 overs(Siriwardana 66, Henry 49-4) lost to New Zealand 191/3 in 21 overs (Guptill 79, McCullum 55)