By Srian Obeyesekere
Sri Lanka came out of the defeatist tour hoodoo in a nail biting Super Over triumph over New Zealand in the opening T20 after the scores were tied at 196 at Eden Park in Auckland on Sunday. Needing 9 for victory in the Super Over, Charith Asalanka hit a six and boundary after Kusal Mendis had crossed over for a single following the last over drama six off Dasun Shanaka by New Zealand’s Ish Sodhi to tie the game that had looked well in the Lankans pocket when the hosts stared down a 12 run deficit.
Put into bat, Sri Lanka owed much to the dashing left-hander Kusal Janith Perera who returned from a one year injury lay off to fashioning a much needed victory with a classic unbeaten 53 off 45 balls inclusive of 4 boundaries and a six having come one drop after Pathum Nissanka had fallen for a duck first ball of the innings. The advent of Charith Asalanka at No, 5 saw the left-hander at long come out of a hollow form rut on tour with a timely 67 off 41 heaving 6 over the top and 2 boundaries. His final assault in the Super Over in sealing it for Sri Lanka capped the Player of the Match award after Maheesh Theekshana had tied New Zealand to 8 in the Super Over and bowling Mark Chapman off the last ball.
New Zealand’s total revolved around Daryl Mitchell’s 66 off 44 containing 5 boundaries and 3 sixes, and Mark Chapman 33 off 23 with 2 sixes and an equal number of boundaries.
CHIEF SCORES: Sri Lanka 196/5 (20 Overs) (Charith Asalanka 67, Kusal Janith Perera n.o. 53, Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva n.o. 21, Kusal Mendis 25,.Dhananjaya de Silva 15, Neeshan 2/30, Ben Listner 1/43, Miline 1/42, Shipley 1/43)
New Zealand 196/8 (20 Overs) (Daryl Mitchell 66, Mark Chapman 33, Rachin Ravindra 26, James Neeshan 19, Ish Sodhi n.o. 10, Dasun Shanaka 2/20, Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva 2/30, Pramod Madushan 2/37, Maheesh Theekshana 1/22, Dilshan Madushanka 1/46)