World Cup 2019, New Zealand vs Sri Lanka, Player of the match: Matt Henry destroys Sri Lanka's top-order to set up easy Kiwi win
New Zealand started off their World Cup campaign with a crushing 10-wicket win over Sri Lanka at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff. This easy win was set up by the bowlers as Sri Lanka were bowled out for a meagre 136 on a greenish wicket. Matt Henry, the new-ball bowler was the star of this fantastic display with a 3-wicket haul.
Matt Henry used the friendly bowling conditions to his advantage as he rocked Sri Lanka's top order. The movement he got with the new ball coupled with his consistent line and length proved too hot to handle for the Lankans.
Henry's first wicket came in the very first over as Sri Lanka's opening batsman Lahiru Thirimanne failed to cover for the movement provided by the wicket. Thirimanne fell victim to a fantastic inswinger as he completely fell over while attempting a flick. It was a 50-50 call which was initially rejected by the on-field umpire Ian Gould. New Zealand confidently reviewed the decision and got rich dividends for risking a review so early on in the inning.
While the first wicket came to a fantastic delivery, Kusal Perera gave a gift to Matt Henry and New Zealand as the dashing batsman skied a harmless length delivery to Colin De Grandhomme at mid-on. The wicket would have come as a huge relief as Kusal Perera was looking ominous with his counter-attacking approach.
Henry made the most of that dismissal as he added Kusal Mendis to his list of victims off the very next delivery. Mendis returned back after bagging a duck as he fiddled against a length ball which pitched outside off only to end up edging the ball to Martin Guptill stationed at 2nd slip.
Sri Lanka never recovered after those early dismissals as the side got bundled out for 136. While Henry rocked Sri Lanka's top-order, Lockie Ferguson blazed through Sri Lanka's middle and lower order with his raw pace and ended up with 3 wickets .Only skipper Dimuth Karunaratne provided some resistance with an unbeaten 52 off 84 balls.
Later on, New Zealand finished off the chase in a jiffy as openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro came out all guns blazing. The chase was sealed in a mere 16.1 overs as the Sri Lankan bowlers found it incredibly tough to create chances off the Kiwi openers.
Regarding his brilliant spell, Henry said,
"It was good to get a green surface and we tried to make the most of it. We don't get many one day wickets like that, but it's nice when you get one. It is just important you go through your processes and try a few things, not try and worry too much as it is a long tournament. On a surface like that we were trying the full length and get them forward, with them trying to hit us off our length. You make sure you keep coming in with your plans and hope that the plans would work. Makes a massive difference when the fielders do their job; they were brilliant today and it means a lot for our bowling attack. I really enjoyed my time at Kent last year, we had a lot of success with the white and the red ball. Always nice to come back here."
This performance would have given Matt Henry a lot of confidence considering the fact that he came off a morale-crushing bowling display against West Indies in a warm-up game prior to the ICC World Cup. New Zealand will hope that Henry carries on this form through the tournament and helps the side notch up many more wins.