Bengaluru: Trent Boult rediscovered his magic with the new ball and Mitchell Santner skilfully exploited the slight grip on offer as New Zealand bundled out Sri Lanka for 171 in their crucial World Cup match here on Thursday.
Having logged eight points, the Kiwis need to win their last league match against the Lankans to stay alive in the race to join India, South Africa and Australia in the semifinals.
Accordingly, they produced a forceful effort through left-arm pacer Boult (3/37) and left-arm spinner Santner (2/22) after electing to field.
Opener Kusal Perera, who was dropped on 1 by stumper Tom Latham off Tim Southee, made a belligerent 51 off 28 balls, a mere footnote in an otherwise shambolic batting effort.
Boult, however, owned the noon in his inimitable fashion.
The 35-year-old was struggling for his rhythm in the last couple of matches, but he revealed his true colours with a bit of nip in the air, jagging the ball around.
After Southee jettisoned Pathum Nissanka, Boult dismissed Lankan captain Kusal Mendis, whose mistimed pull ended with Rachin Ravindra near square leg, in the first ball of the fifth over.
Three balls later, Boult angled one across in-form Sadeera Samarawickrama, and the indecisive right-hander nibbled it to Latham.
A couple of overs later, Boult trapped Charith Asalanka in front of the wicket with one that came wee bit in to reduce Lanka to 70 for four.
Angelo Matthews and Dhananjaya de Silva could not negate Santner’s accuracy and the deliveries that spun away from them, perishing cheaply, effectively signalling the end of the Lankan fight.
However, while the Lankan castle was crumbling around him Perera played a gem of an innings.
Perera’s batting is so reminiscent of his idol Sanath Jayasuriya – short back-lift and a woodcutter’s forearms sending the ball miles away.
But Perera had not made the kind of impact expected of him, making just one fifty against Australia in the tournament and failing to reach double digits in five other innings prior to this day.
However, the left-hander, who was dropped on 1 by stumper Tom Latham off Tim Southee, was in his element here and creamed Kiwis bowlers around the park.
Perera made Southee suffer as well. He extracted 18 runs off the pacer’s third over, innings’ sixth, through a sequence of 6, 4, 4, 4, 4.
The pick-up six off his legs over long-on and the drive past the point fielder were the standout shots in that series.
Perera soon reached his 17th ODI fifty, second of this tournament, with another cracking cover drive off returning pacer Lockie Ferguson.
But the fun ended soon as Ferguson had the last laugh – an attempted loft over the covers ended in the hands of Santner.
Ferguson, who pinged Maheesh Theekshana on his arm, returned to rattle the late-order batsmen with his high pace, to add a couple of more wickets.
Theekshana and Dilshan Madhushanke added 43 runs for the final wicket, the highest in the Lankan essay, but they ended up with a vastly under-par total.
(Published 09 November 2023, 12:46 IST)