Astle leads NZ to victory

Nathan Astle scored an unbeaten 90 to give New Zealand a win by five wickets at Jade Stadium.

New Zealand successfully chased down Sri Lanka’s 255 to win with two overs to spare, taking an unassailable lead in the series.

Playing as the Supersub, Astle played the anchor role superbly. He hit seven boundaries and one six in his 125 ball knock. It was all the more significant as Astle was only playing due to Stephen Fleming’s unavailability and has struggled for runs of late.

Chris Cairns was not out on 10 at the close.

Earlier in the day, Daniel Vettori won the toss and chose to field. Kyle Mills and Shane Bond continued their good form from Queenstown but Upul Tharanga took the attack up to New Zealand’s bowlers. Bond again generated good pace, reaching 145 consistently and intimidated the opposition.

Avishka Gunawardene fell to Bond early on, but Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara put on 109 runs for the second wicket. Captain Marvan Atapattu played a solid hand in the middle stages, posting an accomplished 52. The star of the day was Tharanga with 103, reaching his second one-day century. He hit fourteen boundaries and faced 125 balls.

Russel Arnold made an unbeaten 21 at the close to help Sri Lanka stutter through to 255 for 7 after their 50 overs. It was a disappointing effort considering the hard pitch and the platform created by Tharanga and Sangakkara.

Lou Vincent played a delightful innings in reply, pulling and driving Farveez Maharoof and the recalled Dilhara Fernando with disdain. Jamie How fell trying to hit across the line for 12 off Chaminda Vaas, yet Vincent continued to plunder the attack.

Vincent was finally dismissed for 46 off 44 balls, Sangakkara taking a magnificent diving one-handed catch.

Peter Fulton showed promise in his innings of 32, and Hamish Marshall fell to a questionable leg-before decision to Muttiah Muralitharan.

With the fall of wickets, New Zealand’s run-rate crept to a run a ball at the start of the 40th over.

Scott Styris demonstrated controlled aggression but fell for 28 with 36 off 37 required. Tilakarante Dilshan took a stunning mid-air catch in the greasy conditions to remove him.

Astle remained calm throughout, being dismissed twice off no-balls. The 47th over was a decisive one, Chaminda Vaas conceding 19 and the match off the last ball.

Sri Lanka 255 for 7
Upul Tharanga 103, Marvan Atapattu 52
Kyle Mills 2-44, Shane Bond 1-39

New Zealand 256 for 5 off 48 overs
Nathan Astle 90no, Lou Vincent 46
Farveez Maharoof 2-41, Tilakarante Dilshan 1-38

Cricket Web Player of the Match
Nathan Astle (New Zealand) with 90 runs.

New Zealand leads the five match series 3-0.

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