Opening batsman Tim Seifert’s blistering 88 helped New Zealand defeat Sri Lanka by four wickets in their thrilling third and final Twenty20 international in Queenstown on Saturday to complete a 2-1 series victory.
Seifert’s brutal assault on Sri Lanka’s bowlers during his 48-ball knock included 10 fours and three sixes as New Zealand cruised for much of their chase of 183, but a dramatic final over when three wickets fell ensured a nervy finish.
The 28-year-old, whose unbeaten 79 set up a nine-wicket win in the second game, missed out on a maiden century after falling to Pramod Madushan in the 17th over with New Zealand looking comfortable with 154 on the board.
Sri Lanka fought back from there and with New Zealand needing 10 in the final over, Mark Chapman smashed Lahiru Kumara for a six before being caught at cover.
Jimmy Neesham was then run out off the next ball and Daryl Mitchell also departed but Rachin Ravindra ensured there would be no Super Over drama as in the first match by holding his nerve to take his side home.
“We got ahead of the run rate and sometimes you do go down the gears a bit,” Seifert said. “It’s a balance. The over I got out was the one we were going to target to get 10 or 20 runs.
“And we saw later that it takes only a couple of wickets for the bowling side to get back into the game as well.” The hosts had defeated Sri Lanka in both the preceding test and one-day international series by 2-0 margins.
New Zealand asked Sri Lanka to bat first after winning the toss and openers Pathum Nissanka (25) and Kusal Mendis (73) had to overcome some challenging swing bowling in the first six overs to lay a solid platform.
'10-15 runs short'
Dropped on 10 by Mitchell at slip, wicketkeeper Mendis went on to punish New Zealand in his 48-ball effort that contained six fours and five sixes as the 28-year-old reached his 12th half-century in the company of Kusal Perera (33).
Dhananjaya de Silva and skipper Dasun Shanaka both made good starts after the pair had departed but the tourists were unable to put New Zealand to the sword at the end of the innings and fell short of a match-winning total.
“We were 10 to 15 runs short,” said Shanaka. “That was the main lack, on the batting side. New Zealand did really well in the series.”