Toss New Zealand 294 for 5 (Guptill 102, Williamson 61, Taylor 61) v Sri Lanka
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Martin Guptill brought up his tenth ODI hundred in the company of Ross Taylor, who made 61 © Getty Images
Martin Guptill struck his most measured, but most substantial innings in a rich series, and Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor contributed 61 apiece, as New Zealand made a competitive 294 for 5 in Mount Maunganui. There were early signs Guptill would unleash another assault on Sri Lanka, but for most of his 102 off 109, he chose to accumulate rather than accost.
Sri Lanka’s bowling, while denuded of some of its venom by a placid surface, had been disciplined at least. Thanks largely to Guptill, New Zealand arrived at the last 10 overs at 212 for 3 – a score in excess of 300 beckoning, but accurate seam bowling at the death prevented a mammoth total. Mitchell Santner provided a brief, late surge when he hit two sixes off the last three balls of the innings, but no boundaries had been hit off the 20 previous balls. Nuwan Kulasekara had still not regained his old swing, but experience carried him through in this innings, in which he claimed figures of 3 for 53 from his 10 overs.
It was against Thisara Perera that Guptill’s innings eased into gear after a brief period of initial circumspection. Guptill flayed Perera through the covers in the fourth over, then collected a high, straight six and two consecutive square boundaries off the bowler before the end of the Powerplay.
When the field relaxed, with New Zealand at 55 for 1 after 10 overs, Guptill and Williamson quickly established a pattern of collecting risk-free runs into the outfield. The seam movement and carry that Angelo Mathews had hoped for at the toss had not materialised. Nuwan Pradeep was the only bowler to get any movement off the deck, and once that disappeared, Guptill and Williamson were both hitting short balls in well in front of square, which suggested the surface was not particularly quick.
Williamson was serene as ever at the crease, inching towards his eighth fifty in 12 innings as Sri Lanka introduced spin via Tillakaratne Dilshan and Milinda Siriwardana. Guptill himself moved to his third half-century in the series with a swept four off Siriwardana in the 19th over; Williamson got to the milestone in the 22nd. Their stand grew to 122 before something of a freak dismissal ended Williamson’s stay in the 24th over. He aimed a swivel-pull off a short leg-side delivery from Dilshan, but managed only to glove it, then bounce it off his thigh pad towards wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal, who snatched it low to the ground.
Guptill progressed in much the same fashion alongside Ross Taylor, striking the occasional boundary off the bad balls, but otherwise happy merely to exploit the vacant green spaces. There were two sixes off his bat in the middle overs – one over deep midwicket and a flat-batted strike over the long-off boundary, then he went to his century with an edged four through the vacant slips. Guptill departed soon after, mistiming a hoick to long-on off Kulasekara, but by now Taylor had shaken off his poor form. He and Luke Ronchi began the death-overs charge – Taylor favouring that deep midwicket area – after Henry Nicholls had holed out on the leg-side for 2.
With six wickets still in hand after the 45th over, New Zealand might have hoped for a brutal finish, but those expectations were tempered by Taylor’s departure, slogging Kulasekara to the square-leg fielder.
Excellent death bowling from Kulasekara crimped the flow of boundaries, and Pradeep bowled well in support until that final over, in which 16 runs were conceded.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo