Despite posting a formidable 174 for 4 wickets on a rapid 79 offv53 balls by Kusal Mendis, Sri Lanka was beaten by New Zealand by 5 wickets in the opening T20 Night International played at the Pallekelle International Cricket Stadium. Mendis, who opened the innings with Kusal Janith Perera , went on the rampage clouting 8 boundaries and 2 sixes in a 41-run first wicket alliance off 4.3 overs. He was third out with the total on 131 off 16.1 overs having posted 63 runs for the third wicket with Niroshan Dickwella who made 33 off 25 inclusive of 2 boundaries.
New Zealand, however, made light of their target reaching 175 for 5 with three balls to spare on a whirlwind 79-run partnership between Ross Taylor and Colin de Grandhomme which eventually rendered the brilliance of Mendis into redundancy. Taylor reeled off a 29-ball 48 containing 3 boundaries and 2 sixes and Grandhomme a 28-ball 44 with 4 boundaries and 2 sixes. The duo foiled an on rampage Sri Lanka which had reduced the New Zealanders to 39 for 3 in 7.2 overs after skipper Lasith Malinga had reduced the visitors to 1 for 1 by clean bowling Munro with his fourth delivery followed by the dismissal of Martin Guptill for 11 caught by Dasun Shanaka off Akila Dananjaya with the total on 18. In that scenario, it was a commendable recovery blazed by the experienced Taylor and hard hitting Grandhomme in seeing their side home. Wanidu Hasaranga claimed 2 for 21 and Malinga 2 for 23.
Sri Lanka 174 for 4 (20 Overs) Run Rate: 8.7 (B.K.G. Mendis 79, N. Dickwella 33, M. D. Shanaka n.o. 17 M.D.K.G. Perera 11, I. Udana n.o. 15, W.I.A. Fernando 10, T. Southee 2/20)
New Zealand 175/5 (19.3 Overs) Run Rate: 8.97 (R. Taylor 48, C. de Grandhomme 44, J. Mitchell n.o. 25, Santner n.o. 14, W. Hasaranga 2/21, L. Malinga 2/23)
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-