Cardiff: Sri Lankan batsmen produced a horror show with the bat and crashed to a humiliating 10-wicket defeat in their opening match of the World Cup against New Zealand on Saturday.
They played like total amateurs and got bowled out for 136 in 29.2 overs on a green top at the Cardiff Wales Stadium.
The Lankan batsmen failed to use a staggering 20 overs as none of their batsmen could show the discipline like their skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, who carried the bat through scoring an unbeaten 52 runs.
New Zealand displayed how powerful a team they are and also deserve the tag of favourites through this emphatic victory with 203 balls to spare. Martin Guptill cracked an unbeaten 73 off 51 balls while his partner Colin Munro remained unconquered on 58 off 47 balls.
When Karunratne remarked during the pre-match press conference on Friday that his team was determined to challenge the New Zealand attack, none thought that it was only his personal view and not applicable to the rest of the team. Sri Lanka displayed no signs of being a former world champion team.
Twenty-seven-year-old right-arm pacer James Henry wiped off the cream of Sri Lanka’s batting with a figure of three for 29 and Sri Lanka never recovered from those early blows. At one stage it looked like Sri Lanka were in competition with Pakistan, who were all out for 105 against West Indies on Friday, to get out for an even lower score. Fortunately for the Islanders, Thisara Perera hit 27 runs and added 52 with his skipper in 8.2 overs.
If not for that partnership, their total would not have even reached the 100 run mark. Henry was well backed by Lockie Ferguson who took three for 22.
The wicket at the Cardiff Wales stadium was so green that it was difficult to distinguish between the pitch and the outfield. New Zealand, after winning the toss, promptly elected to bowl as they knew the Lankans could be in trouble in such conditions.
Sri Lanka were shot out for their third-lowest score after batting first in the World Cup, the previous ones being when they had got out for 86 against Manchester in 1975 and 133 against South Africa in Sydney in 2015.
Henry was very pleased with his bowling. “It is important to start the way we have. As a bowling unit we want to keep taking wickets. Definitely, I wouldn’t expect the wickets to be like this throughout,” he said.
The ease with which New Zealand won the match, with both their openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro hitting half-centuries, made one feel that Sri Lanka had entered the field believing they had already lost the battle. The team’s body language was not positive and that disappointed the large number of Lankan fans. Their ace pacer Lasith Malinga too failed to create any impact, giving away 46 runs from his five overs.
Karunaratne gave no excuses after the match, while admitting: “A total of 136 was never going to be enough in these conditions. It would have been a good toss to win, sadly I lost it. The ball was seaming and swinging in the morning so they had the advantage. They also had the bowlers to use it. Everyone comes out to watch entertaining cricket, so hopefully, we will get good batting wickets later on.”
Lahiru Thirimanne lbw b Henry 4
Dimuth Karunaratne not out 52
Kusal Perera c De Grandhomme b Henry 29
Kusal Mendis c Guptill b Henry 0
Dhananjaya de Silva lbw b Ferguson 4
Angelo Mathews c Latham b De Grandhomme 0
Jeevan Mendis c Neesham b Ferguson 1
Thisara Perera c Boult b Santner 27
Isuru Udana c Henry b Neesham 0
Suranga Lakmal c Santner b Boult 7
Lasith Malinga b Ferguson 1
Extras: ((b1, nb2, w8) 11
Total: (all out, 29.2 overs) 136
Fall of wickets: 1-4 (Thirimanne), 2-46 (K. Perera), 3-46 (K. Mendis), 4-53 (Ferguson), 5-59 (Mathews), 6-60 (J. Mendis), 7-112 (T. Perera), 8-114 (Udana), 9-130 (Lakmal), 10-136 (Malinga)
Bowling: Henry 7-0-29-3 (1w), Boult 9-0-44-1 (4w), Ferguson 6.2-0-22-3 (1w 1nb), De Grandhomme 2-0-14-1, Neesham 3-0-21-1 (1w, 1nb), Santner 2-0-5-1 (1w)
M. Guptill not out 73
C. Munro not out 58
Extras: (lb3, nb1, w2) 6
Total: (no wickets, 16.1 overs) 137
Bowling: Malinga 5-0-46-0, Lakmal 4-0-28-0, Udana 3-0-24-0, T. Perera 3-0-25-0, J. Mendis 1.1-0-11-0
Result: New Zealand won by 10 wickets
Toss: New Zealand
Umpires: Ian Gould (ENG) and Rod Tucker (AUS)
TV umpire: Nigel Llong (ENG)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)