New Zealand capitalized on another failure by Sri Lanka’s batters and avoided one of its own to win the third one-day international by six wickets in Hamilton on Friday and to take the three-match series 2-0.
After being bowled out for only 76 in the first match — which New Zealand won by 198 runs — Sri Lanka was dismissed for 157 in 41.3 overs as it batted first after winning the toss in Game 3. The second match was abandoned because of rain.
New Zealand also was in trouble early when it lost two wickets in the second over of its innings and was 6-2, then 21-3. But Will Young, who had been out of form with only 30 runs from his last four ODI innings, ground his way back to form with an unbeaten 86 which guided New Zealand to victory with 17.1 overs remaining.
Young and Henry Nicholls (44) shared an unbroken partnership of exactly 100 runs for the fifth wicket. Like all batters Friday, Young had moments of alarm in his innings and sometimes was tempted to dangle the bat outside off stump. But he persevered and eventually reached his half century from 71 balls, mostly from playing with sound technique rather than trying to hit out recklessly.
“I’m stoked to spend a bit of time in the middle and contribute a bit to the team,” Henry said. “To end up with a series win was pretty special, too.
“It was a bit of a grind out there to be honest. There was some good bowling and patches when they hit their length. It wasn’t always pretty but we got the job done in the end.”
The New Zealand seamers set up the win with another excellent performance. Henry Shipley, who took 5-31 in the first match, returned 3-32 on Friday and has been a huge success in his first home series.
Matt Henry took 3-14 and produced an outstanding early spell in which he removed Nuwanidu Fernando (2) and Kusal Mendis (0) as Sri Lanka slumped to 23-3 by the end of the first 10-over powerplay.
Sri Lanka wasn’t able to produce sustained partnerships which might break New Zealand’s grip on the match, even when opener Pathum Nissanka became a possible anchor with his innings of 57 from 58 balls.
Apart from Nissanka, only three Sri Lanka batters reached double figures. Of those, captain Dasun Shanaka was the best with 31 from 38 balls.
The New Zealand bowling was relentless. After Henry and Shipley, Daryl Mitchell chipped in with 3-32 from seven overs.
The pitch at Seddon Park was similar to the one at Eden Park in Auckland on which Sri Lanka was bowled out for its lowest-ever ODI score against New Zealand. Bowlers early on were rewarded for a full length as the ball moved a little off the surface or held up and made timing difficult. Bounce which sometimes was sharp, sometimes tennis ball-like, also was difficult to judge.
“I think as a bowling group we talked of being quite ruthless, dictating play and we’re happy with the efforts,” Henry said. “It’s been a great start for Henry (Shipley) and we as a collective have talked about being good for long periods of time.”
Henry first had the wicket of Nuwanidu who leaned forward on a ball pitched into his pads which straightened and delivered an easy catch to Henry Nicholls at slip. Most of the wickets that fell Friday were to catches behind the wicket.
Henry then removed Kusal Mendis for a six-ball duck. The ball again was full, just outside off stump, and Mendis edged to Daryl Mitchell at first slip.
Henry twice had decisions against Nissanka overturned on review before Shipley stepped up and dismissed Angelo Mathews, who defended a straight ball which also moved away and gave Mitchell another slip catch.
Nissanka stayed on until Sri Lanka was 100-6. Few others stayed long enough to build a more challenging total.
New Zealand’s top order also struggled in the conditions. Chad Bowes was caught by Mendis from the first ball of the second over and Blundell also was caught behind from the sixth ball of the over bowled by Lahiru Kumara.
Mitchell gave Mendis another catch from the bowling of Kasun Rajitha and Latham chopped on a delivery from Shanaka which was well wide of off stumps.
Young and Nicholls saw New Zealand home with plenty of overs to spare. New Zealand now is unbeaten in its last six one-day international series at home. It also leads the Super League standings for the ICC World Cup in India later this year.
After losing the series, Sri Lanka will not qualify automatically for the World Cup and will now face have to go through a repechage to qualify.