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Sri Lanka lay high-flying Kiwis low

By Harish Kotian in Mumbai
Last updated on: October 20, 2006 22:42 IST
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Sri Lanka rode on Muttiah Muralitharan's brilliant bowling to register a comprehensive seven-wicket victory over New Zealand in a Group B match of the ICC Champions Trophy, at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai on Friday.

Electing to bat first, New Zealand were bowled out for 165 in 49.2 overs.

Sri Lanka were never in trouble during their reply and coasted to the victory target in 36 overs.

Veteran off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan did most of the damage, claiming four wickets for 23 in his 10 overs.

Part-time spinner Sanath Jayasuriya gave him good support, taking 2 for 26 in 10 overs.

Earlier, Daniel Vettori scored 46 from 53 balls, and added 47 runs for the last wicket with Jeetan Patel (10), to rescue New Zealand, who had shocked South Africa in their opening match, after they were reduced to 118 for 9 by the 39th over.

New Zealand innings:

New Zealand made two changes in their side, including pacer Shane Bond and all-rounder Scott Styris in place of Peter Fulton and James Franklin.

Fleming, who appeared in his 193rd ODI as captain, equalled former Sri Lanka skipper Arjuna Ranatunga's record of leading the country in most One-Day Internationals.

However, it was not a memorable day for him with the bat, as he was dismissed leg before wicket to Chaminda Vaas in the fifth over for 0.

Vincent and Nathan Astle then played cautiously, with the sole intention of keeping wickets intact, as New Zealand crawled to 30 for 1 after 10 overs.

Vincent's patience finally grew thin; he was bowled by Farveez Maharoof for 13 (41 balls, 1 boundary) trying to lift the scoring rate. He tried to play Maharoof across the line, but failed to connect as the ball crashed on to his stumps in the 12th over.

Hamish Marshall didn't last long either, offering Tillakaratne Dilshan a simple catch off Lasith Malinga for 4, which left New Zealand in trouble at 56 for 3 in the 17th over.

Except for Astle, who played with a degree of comfort, all the other batsmen struggled on the slow Mumbai pitch.

New Zealand slipped further when Scott Styris was caught behind off left-arm spinner Sanath Jayasuriya for 3.

Tall all-rounder Jacob Oram had no clue to the special 'doosra' delivery from veteran off-spinner Muralitharan. The tall left-hander played down the wrong line to a ball that pitched on middle stump and crashed into the leg stump; the batsman had anticipated the regular off-spinning delivery.

Muralitharan struck in his first over, and judging from the help he was getting from the pitch, he seemed set for more. He claimed the vital wicket of Astle in his third over. The right-hander looked set for a big innings, but an ambitious shot on the off-side saw him offer an easy catch to Malinga on the square boundary.

Astle scored 42 from 74 balls, inclusive of six boundaries, and was the only New Zealand batsman who looked in control. Except for a missed chance when on 19 in the 15th over, he rarely looked in trouble.

New Zealand were reeling at 87 for 6 in the 30th over and it seemed the match would be yet another low-scoring encounter.

Brendon McCullum played patiently for 30 balls, but his frustration got the better of him. The Kiwi wicketkeeper, who scored a painstaking 9, tried to reverse sweep Muralitharan but the ball hit his bat on to his pads, straight to Jayawardene in the slips.

Kyle Mills (6) became Muralitharan's fourth victim of the innings and Shane Bond fell to Jayasuriya as New Zealand slipped to 118 for 9 in the 39th over.

It seemed a matter of time before Sri Lanka would finish off the innings.

But Daniel Vettori and Jeetan Patel fought back valiantly. Vettori played a vital knock under difficult conditions as the final pair aimed to play out the 50 overs and take whatever they could get.

Vettori took 19 runs off the 49th over from Vaas to help boost New Zealand's final tally and take them past 150.

Patel was the final wicket to fall, caught by Jayawardene off Malinga for 10 in the final over of the innings for 10 as New Zealand folded for 165 in 49.2 overs.

Vettori was left stranded on 46 from 53 balls, but crucially the last pair added 47 runs in 63 balls to help their team stage a late rally.

Fleming must be glad that his team managed to recover and score above the 150-run mark. The pitch is still on the slower side and he must be hoping that Patel and Vettori can also make their mark with the ball.

In their last match, they had shot out the South Africans for 108 on a quite similar pitch. But this time, they face the in-form Sri Lankans, who are much better players of spin. The key will be to claim Jayasuriya's wicket as early as possible, else he could just make all the difference.

Sri Lanka innings:

Shane Bond's first over, his first in one-day internationals since March, had it all: a thick edge that flew past second slip, a few fast out-swingers that missed the edge and a high full toss that was called 'no-ball' for height. It was clear that he was fit and raring to blast the Sri Lankan openers.

But in his next over, Jayasuriya made his presence felt; he hit a huge six over the cover region, before being beaten all ends up off the next ball and then lofting a boundary over the point region. Sri Lanka raced to 45 for 1 after six overs, as Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga looked to take advantage of the fielding restrictions.

But just when it looked as if Jayasuriya would seal the fate of the match in the early overs itself, he fell, caught behind to Mills. He scored a quick 20 off 18 balls, inclusive of two boundaries and a six, before losing his wicket in the seventh over.

Tharanga, who scored two centuries in the qualifying matches, then took over the mantle. He kept up a good scoring rate along with captain Mahela Jayawardene as the duo attacked at every opportunity.

Vettori and Patel failed to make any sort of impression on a pitch that had earlier seen Muralitharan and Jayasuriya get fair amount of help. It was more to do with the Sri Lankan batsmen, who have been brought up on these kind of pitches.

Tharanga and Jayawardene added 89 runs for the second wicket before the latter was caught by Vettori off Patel for 48. The partnership put Sri Lanka in a dominant position, as they reached 134 for 2 in the 27th over.

Tharanga followed his captain in the same over, as he was stumped off Patel. The left-hander scored 56 from 77 balls, studded with nine boundaries.

But Patel's double strike perhaps came a bit too late. In low-scoring matches it is just one big partnership that makes the difference, and it was evident in the Sri Lanka innings.

Kumara Sangakkara and Marvan Atapattu avoided any further drama, scoring the remaining few runs with utmost caution.

Sangakkara finished the match in style, easing a boundary through the off-side to take Sri Lanka to a comprehensive seven-wicket victory.

Sangakkara, who was unbeaten on 19 from 32 balls (2 fours), shared an unbroken stand of 31 for the fourth wicket with Atapattu, who was not out on 10.

It gave Sri Lanka their first victory in the group stage after the loss to Pakistan earlier in the competition. It also threw Group B wide open, with Pakistan, New Zealand and Sri Lanka on 2 points each.

South Africa, who lost to New Zealand in their opening match, are yet to score a point.

For New Zealand, Patel finished with respectable figures of 2 for 28. Kyle Mills was the other wicket-taker, claiming 1 for 24 in 5 overs.

The real problem for New Zealand was that their two key bowlers in Bond and Vettori failed to make any sort of impression.

Bond bowled with good pace, but was unable to control his line and length, giving away plenty of runs. In comparison, the Sri Lankan pacers showed plenty of control and also struck vital early blows, before Muralitharan unleashed his magic on the middle order.

New Zealand will have no complaints with the pitch, after Sri Lanka showed that once the batsmen applied themselves run scoring was not much of a problem.

Sri Lanka now take on South Africa in Ahmedabad on October 24; New Zealand meet Pakistan the following day.

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Harish Kotian in Mumbai