NZ level Twenty20 series

Like the Test series that came before it, the two-match Twenty20 series between New Zealand and Sri Lanka ended in a 1-1 draw as New Zealand comfortably chased down a small target at Eden Park today to complete victory that after two consecutive losses to Sri Lanka must come as a confidence-booster to the home team.

Sri Lanka’s match got off to the worst possible start as they lost a wicket first ball after losing the toss and being put in to bat, with Upul Tharanga clean bowled by James Franklin. Franklin followed that wicket with those of Mahela Jayawardene and Marvan Attapattu, and with Michael Mason, Mark Gillespie and Andre Adams also helping themselves to wickets Sri Lanka found themselves 71-8.

Having decided that they had nothing to lose and might as well try to score as many runs as possible in as little time as possible, Lasith Malinga and Dilhara Fernando actually proved to be much more effective than their top-order counterparts and put on 44 for the ninth wicket. Their innings of 27 and 21 respectively guided the visitors away from a potentially embarrassing double-figure score to one that was on the way to being respectable.

But dsepite the strong all-round performance of Dilhara Fernando who followed his 21 with three wickets, the total was never going to be enough as New Zealand once again made a powerful start through the hitting of Brendon McCullum and Stephen Fleming, and Nathan Astle took control with a very impressive 40 not out to guide the home team through to a comfortable five-wicket win on a perfect summer afternoon in Auckland.

With the still fairly light-hearted form of cricket out of the way, New Zealand shed the 1992-style retro grey uniforms and return to black as the much more serious stuff now begins with five one-day internationals, the first of which is in Napier on Thursday.

Sri Lanka 115 all out
Lasith Malinga 27, Dilhara Fernando 21
James Franklin 3-23, Andre Adams 2-20

New Zealand 116-5
Nathan Astle 40 no, Brendon McCullum 28
Dilhara Fernando 3-19, Tillakaratne Dilshan 0-8

New Zealand won by 5 wickets.

Cricket Web Player of the Match – Dilhara Fernando (21 and 3-19)

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