Ryder and Guptill inspire New Zealand
Half-centuries from Jesse Ryder and Martin Guptill helped New Zealand keep alive their ICC Champions Trophy chances with a comfortable 38-run victory over Sri Lanka at the Wanderers today.
Ryder, who was later ruled out of the tournament with a groin injury, blasted 74 from 58 balls and Guptill 66 to help the Black Caps post a daunting 315 for seven.
The Sri Lankans got off to a good start in response, but eventually perished to 277 all out in 46.4 overs, thanks largely to Mahela Jayawardene’s 77 and Nuwan Kulasekara’s 57 not out, with all the New Zealand bowlers chipping in.
There was a surprise at the start when the islanders opted to drop the out-of-form Muttiah Muralitharan and replace him with Thilan Thushara on what was expected to be a lively Wanderers surface.
They also won the toss and chose to field, but both decisions looked questionable early on as Ryder, injured in the fifth over, switched to attacking mode.
Together with Brendon McCullum, the pair raised the 50 from just 45 balls and, after being put down by Thilina Kandamby at square-leg whilst on 38, the big all-rounder took just 28 balls for his own half-century, which included 38 in boundaries.
The 100 came up in just the 16th over, but Sri Lanka finally claimed a desperate breakthrough when another Ryder swish was edged straight to Kumar Sangakkara – Kulasekara ending an entertaining innings.
McCullum then handed part of the early initiative back to their opponents when he got a leading edge off Angelo Mathews (2-33) to Tillakaratne Dilshan at backward point for 46.
It was 128 for two at that stage and that quickly became 161 for five following the quick wickets of Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott out for a duck and Neil Broom.
But Daniel Vettori added 69 with Guptill for the sixth wicket, before he was eventually holed Jayasuriya out to long on for 48.
His partner fought on to reach his fourth career half-century and along with James Franklin, who reached 28 not out as New Zealand set 316.
Dilshan and Jayasuriya blazed away in response reaching 50 inside the sixth over, with the former looking particular devastating as he tucked into Shane Bond and Kyle Mills.
That prompted a bowling change with Daryl Tuffey brought in and he repaid Vettori’s faith by removing veteran Jayasuriya (24), who top-edged to midwicket
But the captain let his team down five balls later – dropping a sitter at mid-off after opposite number Sangakkara mishit the ball straight to him.
There was some reprieve later in the over, though, when Dilshan’s hook was down the throat of substitute fielder Jeetan Patel at square leg for 41.
New man Jayawardene was also dropped on nought shortly after – McCullum the culprit this time putting down a thick edge off Tuffey.
Sangakkara was not so fortunate in the 13th over when he found Taylor at first slip after a short ball from Franklin leaving Sri Lanka at 85 for three and in serious trouble.
They suffered further set-backs with the dismissals of Thilan Samaraweera (18), Kandamby (11) and Mathews (two) cheaply.
Jayawardene tried desperately to keep up with the run-rate, raising his half-century from 65 deliveries, and he finally found a good partner in Kulasekara – the two putting on 50 in a mere 35 balls.
But the partnership and Sri Lanka’s hopes were eventually blown away with the demise of Jayawardene, whose 85-ball knock ended when he was bowled by Vettori, who ended with 2-45.
Despite a late attempt by Kulasekara, whose 50 came in 54 balls, to salvage something from the game, he ran out of partners as the Asian side perished.
They must now hope that England win their remaining two games if they are to have any chance of qualifying from Group B.