New Zealand Pull Off Dramatic One-Wicket Win
New Zealand scrambled over the line to clinch a one-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the tightest game yet in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 in Cardiff.
Mitchell McClenaghan took four wickets to dismiss Sri Lanka for 138 in 36.3 overs but his tally was matched by Lasith Malinga before New Zealand's final pair, Tim Southee and McClenaghan, scored the five runs they needed to take their side to victory.
Malinga's range of yorkers and full tosses proved Sri Lanka's best weapon and he removed Kane Williamson as well as the McCullum brothers, who looked to be taking their side towards victory, and then Daniel Vettori.
However, Southee was able to see off the remainder of his spell, with a little luck, and then when Tillakaratne Dilshan bowled a wide with two runs needed, the pair capitalised by taking the extra run to register New Zealand's first win over Sri Lanka since 2009.
Kumar Sangakkara had earlier top scored for the misfiring Sri Lankan batting line-up with 68 as only three players reached double figures.
New Zealand's eventual win made it the eighth time in nine ODIs held in Cardiff that the team batting second had won, but they almost slipped up.
There were no slip ups to the way they started the match when Brendon McCullum sprung to his left at second slip to remove Kushal Perera from the first ball of the match bowled by Mills.
Dilshan added 20 in 18 balls in quick time before things really started to unravel, and with Mills and McClenaghan bowling superbly, Sri Lanka found themselves at 82 for six.
Vettori, playing his first match since the 2011 World Cup semi-final against Sri Lanka, was brought on and immediately trapped Mahela Jayawardene in front for four. Job done, he was removed from the attack, before returning later to finish with a miserly one for 16 in six overs.
Sangakkara finally found something resembling support when Thisara Perera struck 15 in 29 balls but his departure, caught by Vettori off McClenaghan, was the catalyst for New Zealand to swiftly wrap things up.
Sangakkara, who struck eight fours in 87 balls, decided he had to try to get some quick runs when he could, falling in the 37th over, followed back soon after by Shaminda Eranga (0) and Lasith Malinga (2) and in 37.5 overs, it was all done and dusted.
McClenaghan finished with figures of four for 34, Mills two for 14 and Nathan McCullum two for 23.
New Zealand's innings followed a similar pattern as they made a solid start before losing three wickets in seven balls to slip to 49 for four in the 11th over. Thereafter, each run was a huge struggle and Sri Lanka put them under huge pressure.
Eranga removed had openers Luke Ronchi (7) and Martin Guptill (25) caught behind, Kane Williamson (16) was trapped in front by Malinga as he lost the sight of a slower ball. He then chose to review the decision, which, had his side not scraped over the line, would have been a highly embarrassing decision given that when Vettori was given out, also trapped in front by Malinga, he had hit the ball.
Rangana Herath had Ross Taylor trapped in front without scoring before Vettori's stroke of bad luck which brought Brendon and Nathan McCullum together.
They patiently added 35 runs together to take the score past the century and looked all set to take their side close to, if not over the line. But back came Malinga, bursting through Brendon's defences to clip leg stump and getting another leg-before decision in his favour as he beat Nathan, the latter falling for 32 and the former for 18.
Mills made three before departing in bizarre circumstances when Perera's throw at mid-on missed the stumps at the bowler's end but carried on to hit the other set of stumps with the seemingly oblivious batsman short of his ground.
Southee, who finished unbeaten on 13, did a fine job in blocking out another series of Malinga yorkers, although his stroke of luck came when one got through him, hit his foot and shot to the boundary. Four runs were given, yet had Sri Lanka had a review remaining, they would have used it and won the match.
On such fine margins do games turn and with Malinga seen off, New Zealand were able to work singles against Dilshan until the priceless wide which enabled them to win a thriller.
© Cricket World 2013
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CT 2013 Fixtures
Champions Trophy History
1998: South Africa
2000: New Zealand
2002: India/Sri Lanka
2004: West Indies