Jayasuriya blasts SL to D/L win

An explosive half-century from Sanath Jayasuriya as the rain came ensured that Sri Lanka were awarded a victory under the Duckworth/Lewis system in the first Twenty20 international against New Zealand in a cold and wet Wellington tonight.

The match started perfectly for New Zealand as Stephen Fleming and Brendon McCullum smashed 59 from the first five overs – and in doing so made themselves the favourites to make up the opening combination for the ODI team in the coming months leading in to the World Cup. McCullum in particular was impressive, striking four big sixes in his 22-ball 39. When the first wicket finally fell, Fleming for 38, the score was 80 from just over seven overs.

But from there it all went downhill as McCullum followed next over, promoted pinch-hitter James Franklin managed 18, Ross Taylor a nervous 21, Nathan Astle 19 and none of the remaining batsmen reaching double figures. What should have been a score in excess of 200 was instead only 162 from the 20 overs, which as hard as it is to believe is not actually a good score in this form of the game. How the bowlers must suffer when a good score is reached.

New Zealand’s defence of their apparently disappointing total started well as Upul Tharanga followed his poor form in the Test series with just six before hitting a ball from Shane Bond straight to Stephen Fleming, but from then on Jayasuriya took control. He hit ten fours and a six, that’s 46 runs in boundaries, in an explosive 51 not out from just 23 balls that did irreparable damage to the figures of the New Zealand bowlers.

When the rain finally provided some mercy for the home team Sri Lanka were 62-1 (yes, that’s nine runs scored by means other than the bat of Sanath Jayasuriya) from just under six overs. As a result, it was clear who the winner would be when it became necessary for everyone to reach for the nearest calculator.

Although Twenty20 remains fairly meaningless fun at this stage, some things were made very clear in tonight’s match – that Jayasuriya has a strong chance of continuing his dominance over New Zealand’s ODI bowling attack, and that Brendon McCullum is as effective early in the innings as he is at the end. We could see a lot more damage caused by the bats of these two players before the season ends.

New Zealand 162-8
Brendon McCullum 39, Stephen Fleming 38
Sanath Jayasuriya 3-21, Muttiah Muralitharan 2-27

Sri Lanka 62-1
Sanath Jayasuriya 51 no
Shane Bond 1-24, James Franklin 0-19

Sri Lanka won by 18 runs (D/L method).

Cricket Web Player of the Match – Sanath Jayasuriya (3-21, 51 no)

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