Kiwi lower order sneaks thriller

A career high unbeaten innings of 45 from James Franklin inspired New Zealand to beat Sri Lanka by one wicket in the second ODI at Queenstown. Number 11 Michael Mason struck a last ball boundary to seal the win, after a tense final over saw him play out five consecutive dot balls.

New Zealand’s squad rotation system once again left Daniel Vettori as skipper, and he started by winning the toss and sending Sri Lanka in to bat. The decision immediately paid off as the New Zealand seamers got on top. Sri Lanka were reduced to 14-2 in the early overs, after Jayasuria edged a Mason delivery on to his stumps and Mark Gillespie bowled Jayawardene through the gate.

Batting at 4, Kumar Sangakkara played a key role in the recovery with an innings of 89. No other Sri Lankan batsman passed 50, but Atapattu and Silva provided crucial support through the middle overs. Sri Lanka were left with a strong platform at the 40 over mark, but Sangakkara and Silva fell in quick succession to reduce the side to 177-6 with 7 overs remaining. Farveez Maharoof provided the acceleration at the finish with an unbeaten 29 from 24 deliveries, and Sri Lanka ended at 224-7 from their 50 overs.

It was a competitive total but not an intimidating one, and a flying start for New Zealand appeared to set up a simple chase. The makeshift pair of James Marshall and Brendon McCullum took the score past 50 inside 8 overs, and it took an unlucky LBW decision against McCullum to cut the partnership short at 57.

While never challenged by the required rate, New Zealand struggled with the regular loss of wickets through the middle of the innings. Taylor, Fulton and McMillan were all dismissed for under 20, and Muralitharan’s spell in particular took the momentum away from New Zealand. After Lasith Malinga removed Vettori with a stunning yorker, New Zealand required a further 85 runs from the last 20 overs with only the bowlers remaining.

The arrival of Franklin at the crease brought about the largest partnership since the opening pair, and he combined with Hamish Marshall for 34 runs. Once again the loss of a wicket came as the home side appeared to be on top, with Marshall offering a tame chip back to Dilshan, gone for 29. Franklin then dominated a brief stand with Andre Adams before Jawawardene brought Murali back for his 10th over, and the champion spinner trapped Adams in front with 30 still required.

Mark Gillespie set out to surprise in his second international innings, negotiating the two remaining Murali deliveries before successfuly foiling a long series of Malinga yorkers by backing away to the leg-side and offering low defensive shots. Franklin hammered Malinga to the off-side fence in the 48th over to bring the target inside 10 runs, and then grabbed five runs from the first three deliveries of the next over from Vaas. With only two needed to win, Gillespie attempted a risky chip down the ground to end the match, but skied the ball to Maharoof at mid-off for an easy catch instead.

The batsmen crossed while the ball was in the air, leaving Franklin on strike on 45 with two to get and eight deliveries remaining. The experience of Vaas didn’t help with the first delivery to Franklin – a wide down the leg-side to tie the scores – but he followed it up with a pair of tight yorkers to force the chase into the 50th over. With just one to win, Michael Mason played out five consecutive dot balls from Jayasuria’s over, unable to get the ball through the field. Even a looping full toss went nowhere, as Mason missed with an attempted slog and Sangakkara collected the ball. Amid growing tension, Mason finally connected well with the last ball of the match and hammered it past the bowler for a series-levelling boundary.

The series continues on Tuesday in Christchurch, where New Zealand are expected to field a full strength team for the first time.

Score Summary
Sri Lanka 224-7 (50)
Kumar Sangakkara 89 (122), Chamara Silva 31 (53)
Mark Gillespie 2-46 (10), Michael Mason 2-50 (10)

New Zealand 228-9 (50)
James Marshall 50 (80), James Franklin 45* (46)
Muttiah Muralitharan 3-31 (10), Tillekaratne Dilshan 1-25 (7)

New Zealand win by 1 wicket.
The five match ODI series is tied 1-1.

CricketWeb Man of the Match
James Frankin – 45* & 1-46

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Sean Fuller