The covering of grass on the pitch was incentive enough for New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson to win the toss and send Sri Lanka in at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Saturday and his bowlers didnt disappoint as they bundled the Lankans out for 136 in 29.2 overs with Matt Henry (3/29) and Lockie Ferguson (3/22) running through their top-order. Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne fought a lone battle and scored 52 runs off 84 balls as the movement off the pitch was just too much for the batsmen from the Island Nation to handle. A couple of partnerships ensured that Sri Lanka crossed the three-figure mark, but constant soft dismissals ensured that the Kiwis had a field day with the ball in hand.
The fact that Williamson had picked just one spinner in Mitchell Santner was hint enough that the Kiwis were looking to make maximum use of the live grass and it started nice and early off the second ball of the first over as Henry sent back Lahiru Thirimanne (4), caught plumb in front. But skipper Karunaratne and Kusal Perera looked like they would stitch a partnership and play out the shine on the ball. Yet, it wasn’t to be as Henry had other ideas and removed Perera (29) as Colin de Grandhomme picked a sitter at mid-on. It was almost as if Perera threw it away after doing the hard yards. Looking to hit Henry over his head, Perera managed to only scoop one high in the air and Grandhomme did the rest as the score read 46/2 in the ninth over.
Kusal Mendis (0) didn’t disturb the scorers as Martin Guptill gobbled him up at first slip. Rather than settling down and building a partnership, he put Henry on a hat-trick. Luckily, Dhananjaya played the perfect off-drive as the hat-trick was averted. But his stay didn’t last long as Ferguson caught him in front of the stumps for 4.
Angelo Mathews was the biggest disappointment as the senior pro failed to slog it out and ended up giving Tom Latham a regulation catch off Grandhomme. Walking back for a duck, the face of the Lankan fans in the crowd said it all as the score read 59/5. Jeevan Mendis left one run later as Ferguson picked another wicket.
Thisara Perera did look like he would stitch a partnership with the skipper and in fact put on 52 runs for the seventh wicket, but Santner’s efforts to induce a false shot finally paid dividend as he hit one straight to Boult as the attempted big shot found the bottom edge of the bat. The score read 112/7. That was the start of the end of the Lankan innings as skipper Karunaratne looked to delay the inevitable.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 136 all out (Dimuth Karunaratne 52, Kusal Perera 29; Lockie Ferguson 3/22) vs New Zealand