New Zealand fall short

A few weeks ago, New Zealand triumphantly chased a world record 332 against Australia, but today a much smaller target set by Sri Lanka proved too much for the Kiwis.

With the series already secured New Zealand rested Scott Styris, Nathan Astle taking his place, and Martin replaced Patel as Super Sub. Martin made his entrance before the first ball was bowled however, as Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat. Martin took Jamie How’s place in the side.

Sri Lanka’s inexperienced openers got the tourists off to a respectable start, but it was the more accomplished middle order that would do the bulk of their runscoring. Dilshan and Snagakkara eased up on their usual aggressive ways, but their partnership of 80 still ticked along at a decent rate.

Once Martin had Dilshan caught behind, Sangakkara and captain Atapattu began to play in their more usual manner. The medium-pace of Astle accounted for Sangakkara for 58, and Sri Lanka were in a strong position of 178-4, with 17 overs remaining. Despite pushing their score up to 273 with their remaining allocation, Sri Lanka would be right to feel that they could have made more; perhaps if Dilshan or Sangakkara had seen the innings through they might have made 300.

In the end, this would not prove costly, but not before an enthralling New Zealand chase. Opening bowlers Vaas and Perera, in for Maharoof, each removed one of New Zealand’s opening batsmen to give Sri Lanka the early initiative.

Back in the side, Nathan Astle played an important innings with the impressive Fulton, who was playing like a veteran, not someone in his fifth game. While Astle nudged the singles and smacked the bad ball, Fulton’s method was one more of elegant drives and sensible defence. When Astle to go over the top of Super Sub Bandara, he holed out to mid-on, bringing his useful 47 to an end.

Marshall then joined Fulton at the crease, and the pair shared a partnership of 78 to take the game further away from Sri Lanka. With the run rate slowly mounting Fulton showed his ability to play the big shot when necessary, clearing the ropes twice off Dilhara Fernando. With the score on 199 Marshall chipped a leading edge back to Perera, and that was the start of the rot.

Fulton brought up his century with another cover drive, but when attempting a second run he was short of his ground. Usually excellent in situations like this one, McCullum holed out to cover. Vettori was soon cleaned up by a Vaas yorker, and Cairns was left with the tail, requiring 38 from 28. Sangakkara missed a chance to stump him, and he soon looked to make Sri Lanka pay, scoring a four and a six off Bandara. Vaas trapped him lbw, and New Zealand were as good as finished. Vaas cleaned up Franklin three balls later, and Fernando accounted for the hapless Martin with the second ball of the 49th over, New Zealand lost their last 7 wickets for just 54 runs.

The result may have no bearing on the result of the series, but at least gives Sri Lanka something to take out of this tour, and means they avoid the humiliation of a whitewash. Fulton’s hundred looks to have secured his place in the side for the foreseeable future, while they will look to avoid a repeat of their shambolic collapse today.

Sri Lanka 273-6
Marvan Atapattu 69, Kumar Sangakkara 58
Chris Martin 3-62, Shane Bond 2-53

New Zealand 253 all out
Peter Fulton 112, Nathan Astle 47
Chaminda Vaas 4-48, Ruchira Perera 3-56

Sri Lanka win by 20 runs

New Zealand win the series 4-1

Cricket Web Man of the Match: Peter Fulton

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