New Zealand all-rounder Nathan McCullum produced a barely believable last-over onslaught to snatch a four-wicket win in a severely rain-affected second one-day international against Sri Lanka at Hambantota.
Needing 18 from the final four balls, McCullum blasted spinner Rangana Herath for three sixes to steal a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Unbeaten half-centuries from Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan had helped Sri Lanka to 138 for one from their reduced allocation of 23 overs, following a mid-innings five-hour delay, before the Duckworth/Lewis Method increased the target by another 60 runs to 198.
New Zealand got within touching distance thanks to Tom Latham’s career-best 86 from 68 balls, but all seemed lost when he fell in the same Nuwan Kulasekara over as Luke Ronchi, who hit 49.
But McCullum ensured a match, in which the falling rain had taken centre stage for the majority, finally lit up as he finished it six-four-six-six – the final maximum from a Herath full-toss coming when just one was needed.
After the opening match was washed out it appeared the weather may have the final say again when the players were forced off on safety grounds due to nearby lightning.
At that stage Sangakkara and Dilshan had both reached their fifties and Sri Lanka were poised at 117 for one from 20.4 overs.
The rain set in soon after play stopped and when it did finally relent, Sri Lanka were left with just 14 more balls to face.
They were able to add another 21 runs in that time but, just as importantly, did not lose a wicket.
Kulasekara, who claimed 4-34, made sure the tourists were in immediate trouble as he located the outside edges of Anton Devcich and Rob Nicol.
Grant Elliot and Colin Munro also fell cheaply, before Latham and Ronchi began the unlikely recovery mission in a 93-run stand.
Kulasekara returned to the attack for the 21st over and it appeared a decisive move, only for McCullum’s late heroics to prove decisive.