Sri Lanka’s disastrous tour ended on an implausibly poor note, as New Zealand thrashed them by nine wickets in the final match of the tour. New Zealand’s bowlers first kept the Lankans down to 142 for 8, in spite of skipper Angelo Mathews’ brilliant unbeaten 81 from 49 balls. Martin Guptill and Colin Murno then blasted record fastest fifties. Guptill reached his half-century off 19 balls, which became the fastest fifty by a New Zealander. But, Munro came in and smashed one off 14 balls, to claim the record, which is now the second fastest ever in T20 internationals. Sri Lanka’s bowlers were merely going through the motions.
While Guptill was once again superb for the Kiwis, as he has been for most part of the series against Sri Lanka, irrespective of the format, New Zealanders found new heroes with the bat and ball for the final game against the abject Sri Lankans. Grant Elliot is known more for his batting than bowling, but on Sunday, he stood out with the ball with figures of 4 for 22. Elliot bowled with accuracy, but was gifted a number of wickets. Munro then came in with the Kiwi score reading a stupendous 89 for 1 in the sixth over, and proceeded to smash 7 sixes and a four in the 14 balls that he faced.
Sri Lanka’s batsmen faltered because they tried to slog out on a stadium known for his short boundaries. New Zealand’s bowlers kept the ball just short of a length, and most of the Lankans fell into the trap. Danushka Gunathilaka was cleaned up by Adam Milne for 8 as he heaved across the line. Tillakaratne Dilshan edged and survived his way to 28 from 25 balls before he was out to a reverse sweep to Elliot. Before Dilshan, Dinesh Chandimal and Shehan Jayasuriya were both out trying to clear the field as the Lankans crumbled without trying to build an innings.
Mathews kept the runs coming from one end, even as wickets kept tumbling from the other end. The last four wickets all fell in single-figure scores as Elliot claimed three of those scalps. Mitchell Santner and Adam Milne chipped in with two wickets each. Sri Lanka ended with a disappointing 142 for 8, and the Kiwis then took over the bat as well. Guptill, in full flow, smashed 63 from 25 with six fours and five sixes. Kane Williamson was steady on the other end remaining unbeaten on 32 from 21 balls, hitting only three fours as the opening stand added a swashbuckling 89.
The trouble for Sri Lanka’s bowlers had only just begun. Munro came in and hit his second ball from Thisara Perera into the stands at wide long on. Munro then mauled Jeffrey Vandersey over the deep midwicket boundary three times in four deliveries as 27 runs came in one over. Vandersey was earlier thrashed by Guptill as well. His two overs ended up going for 41 runs. Munro took the Kiwis to victory by slapping Dushmantha Chameera for a four and two sixes. Chameera went for 46 in his three overs while Isuru Udana conceded 34 in his three overs.
--By A Cricket Correspondent