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New Zealand Win Rain-Soaked Thriller

Nathan McCullum plays on the leg-side
Nathan McCullum finished off the New Zealand run chase after Tom Latham and Luke Ronchi had set things up.
©REUTERS/Andrew Biraj. Picture Supplied by Action Images

New Zealand 203-6 (Latham 86, Ronchi 49) beat
Sri Lanka 138-1 by 4 wickets (D/L)
Second One-Day International, Hambantota

Brilliance from Tom Latham, Nathan McCullum and Luke Ronchi took New Zealand to a last-ball win in a heavily rain-affected second One-Day International against Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka made 138 for one from a 23-over innings that was interrupted late on by a monsoon, meaning that the Black Caps were set a daunting 198 to win from their 23 overs via the Duckworth-Lewis method.

They quickly slumped to 34 for three and 68 for four, but Tom Latham and Luke Ronchi got them back into the match during a fine fifth-wicket partnership of 93 in 57 balls. However, Nuwan Kulasekara dismissed both in the 21st over following a tight 20th over from Lasith Malinga that built the pressure to leave Nathan McCullum and James Neesham to score 32 off the final two overs of the innings.

McCullum dominated their match-winning partnership, hitting two boundaries from the penultimate over bowled by Malinga (5-0-42-0) to leave them needing 20 from the final over to be bowled by Rangana Herath (3-0-43-0).

Herath did well initially, conceding just three from the first two balls, but McCullum then smacked boundaries off all of the remaining deliveries, finishing the match in fine style with a six over long-on when the scores were level. McCullum ended on 32 off only nine balls, with Neesham an interested spectator on five off four.

New Zealand had earlier lost wickets at the start of their run chase, with Anton Devcich and Rob Nicol departing to consecutive deliveries in Kulasekara’s opening over. Sachithra Senanayake then accounted for Grant Elliott (7) and Colin Munro (15) to leave the tourists with it all to do.

Fortunately, two of their less experienced players were on hand to guide them towards the winning line. Latham romped to 50 off just 45 balls and brought up the half-century partnership with Ronchi off only 32 deliveries. Ronchi finally fell for 49 off 26 balls to Kulasekara (5-0-34-4), with Latham then following for 86 off 68 three balls later to tilt the match back in the home side’s favour.

The pair, though, had given their side a chance, one which McCullum capitalised on with a display of brutal hitting to guarantee them at least a share of the three-match series after game one on Sunday was rained off.

Sri Lanka had earlier recovered for the early loss of Dimuth Karunaratne to post a challenging total. Old hands Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara both passed 50 and added an unbroken 126 for the second-wicket. They had reached 117 for one in the 21st over when the umpires, Bruce Oxenford and Ruchira Palliyaguruge, took the players off due to lightning.

Rain, of varying intensity, was to follow for much of the next five hours, with Dilshan and Sangakkara then boosting their side’s total by a further 21 from the final 14 balls of their innings. That set up what was a terrifically entertaining, and ultimately successful, New Zealand run chase.

© Cricket World 2013