1st Match: New Zealand v Sri Lanka at Colombo, 18 Jul 2001
Anand Vasu

Sri Lanka innings: 15 overs, 30 overs, 50 overs,
Pre-game: Toss and Teams,
New Zealand innings: 15 overs, 30 overs, End of match,


LANKANS BEGIN COCA-COLA CUP WITH 16 RUN VICTORY

While the New Zealanders put on a brave face, there was little they could do to delay the inevitable loss by 16 runs. The Lankan spinners turned the screw tighter with every passing over. Adam Parore stuck around at the wicket as long as possible but could not really get after the bowling. With no answer to the off spinning questions of Muralitharan and Dharmasena the Kiwis fell short by 16 runs. Although that does not seem like a large margin, the fact that the target was a very manageable 221 helps put things in perspective.

Despite getting well set, Parore could manage just 51 off as many as 83 balls. That really was indicative of the difficulty the New Zealand batsmen experienced in scoring quick runs against the spinners. Parore was at the crease, unbeaten on 51 as the Kiwis ran out of overs, ending on 204/9.

Dharmasena with the figures of 10-1-29-1 and Muralitharan with 10-1-36-2 were the key bowlers in the middle overs. However, credit is also due to the medium pacers who picked up 4 quick wickets between them.



LANKAN SPINNERS CHOKE RUN FLOW

Given the circumstances, there was little Chris Harris and Lou Vincent could do other than work the ball into the gaps, pick up the singles and save their energies for a last minute dash. In contrast the Sri Lankan spin bowlers were in their element. With the pressure mounting with every low scoring over, shrewd tacticians like Muralitharan and Dharmasena sped through their overs.

With Harris unsuccessfully trying to heave the ball over the vacant midwicket region on more than one occasion, the runs dried up. Vincent found the going too tough to handle and played all over one from Muralitharan. Lunging down the track to a ball that had a bit of extra loop on it, Vincent was beaten by the turn off the wicket. The ball spun through the gap between bat and pad and clipped the bails. Vincent's 25 took New Zealand to exactly 100/5.

With half the side back in the cool confines of the pavilion, stumper Adam Parore came together with Harris. At the 30 over mark New Zealand were 116/5, with Harris (22 not out) and Parore (10 not out) helping the New Zealand innings on its way. Dharmasena with figures of 6-1-9-0 had tied one end completely down, allowing Muralitharan, who had the wholly acceptable figures of 6-0-13-1, to attack at the other.



NEW ZEALAND CRUMBLE AS LANKAN QUICKS STRIKE EARLY

The New Zealand reply to Sri Lanka's total started off on the wrong foot. The Kiwis were docked one over for failing to bowl their quota in the stipulated time. New Zealand took 213 minutes to wrap up the Sri Lankan innings, three minutes more than the allotted time.

However, the chasing side had more important things to worry about than the fact that they had only 49 overs to score 221. In just 7 balls the Sri Lankan quick bowlers had sent both the openers back to the pavilion. The last ball of the first over of the innings saw Nathan Astle drag one from Chaminda Vaas back onto his stumps. A key man in the New Zealand line up, Astle had perished for just 2. Off the very next ball, young speedster Suresh Perera trapped Matthew Sinclair plumb in front of the stumps. Walking across the wicket, Sinclair (2) missed while Perera was bang on target. At 3/2 it was crucial that both Craig McMillan and skipper Stephen Fleming play responsible innings and get the run chase back on track.

McMillan looked in fine nick, driving the ball square of the wicket with good placement and superb timing. The Lankan medium pacers, emulating their New Zealand counterparts, sprayed the ball a bit, bowled plenty of wides and gave away a good many runs. Encouraged by McMillan, Fleming too got going, stroking the ball effortlessly through covers on more than one occasion.

The change of bowling did the trick for the Lankans, with Dilhara Fernando inducing a false shot from Fleming (21 runs, 24 balls, 4 fours) and New Zealand were 43/3 in 7.5 overs. Slashing hard at a ball outside the off stump, Fleming only managed to hit Fernando straight up in the air for Perera to catch inside the circle on the offside. Although the runs were coming at a decent rate, the regular loss of wickets did the New Zealand cause no good at all.

Lou Vincent could only watch as matters quickly worsened for the Kiwis. On 20, McMillan chopped hard at a ball from Fernando. The ball was there for the cut, a bit short and outside the off, but was quicker than McMillan anticipated. The resultant thick edge was gobbled up by Kaluwitharana behind the stumps. At 61/4 the chase became an uphill task for New Zealand.

Vincent (17 not out) and Harris (2 not out) took New Zealand to 76/4 at the end of 15 overs.



SRI LANKA SET NEW ZEALAND 221 FOR VICTORY

Chris Zinzan Harris has an irritating way of reminding batsmen that he is not just any ordinary dibbly-dobbly bowler. A nagging line and length, astute reading of the state of the game and a batsman's weaknesses make Harris a dangerous customer. When the wicket is on the slower pace or two paced, Harris becomes especially difficult to deal with. Russel Arnold was at the receiving end of a Harris special in the 33rd over of the day. Sweeping and missing across the line at a Harris slider, Arnold was trapped lbw.

As is so often the case in cricket, one wicket brought another one. Sanath Jayasuriya, in an attempt to accelerate the scoring gave Daniel Vettori a well deserved wicket, driving one straight down Jacob Oram's throat at long on. Having compiled an uncharacteristically slow 80 Jayasuriya's dismissal was a big blow to the Lankan innings. Having taken the time to get well set Jayasuriya really should have gone on to play a longer innings. As it turned out, 108 balls was all Jayasuriya could manage at the wicket and Sri Lanka were in a spot of bother at 170/5 in 37.2 overs.

Romesh Kaluwitharana (14) and Kumara Dharmasena (9) were sent packing by some cracking New Zealand fielding. The twin run outs, effected by Lou Vincent and Chris Harris respectively typified the New Zealand effort in the field. While not being flashy, the New Zealand team converted half chances to wickets and this really put the breaks on Sri Lanka.

Some lusty hitting from Suresh Perera (19 runs, 20 balls, 3 fours) at the end of the innings, including a cracking cover drive, saw Sri Lanka reach a total of 220 all out in 48.5 overs. After a good, solid start, the hosts would have hoped to score something around the 240 mark. As it turned out, New Zealand kept their nerve, gave away nothing and thereby put the brakes on the Lankans.

At the halfway mark in this game, neither team will be completely satisfied. New Zealand have done well to keep the Lankans down to 220 and yet that is the kind of score that might cause a few problems to the team chasing. The wicket will get slower and lower and the Sri Lankan spinners, Muralitharan, Dharmasena, Jayasuriya and maybe even Arnold might have a role to play.



JAYASURIYA POSTS 43RD ODI HALF CENTURY AS SRI LANKA CONSOLIDATE

Having got off to a good start, the Sri Lankans made the best of the middle overs. Marvan Atapattu, coming in at the fall of the first wicket settled into a good rhythm. Not chancing his arm, Atapattu was content giving Jayasuriya the lion's share of the strike. The Lankan skipper for his part was at ease at the crease. Although the strong opening bat was severe on anything a bit loose he was equally happy stroking the ball into the gaps and running hard when it was required.

The partnership of Atapattu and Jayasuriya worked well as the medium pacers gave way to the slower bowlers. The tall Jacob Oram got through an initial spell of 4 overs for 14 runs before Daniel Vettori and Chris Harris bowled in tandem. With the ball not coming onto the bat as well as the batsmen would have liked, good running between the wickets became more and more important. Atapattu was especially good in this regard, working the ball off his pads and hips efficiently to the on side.

It was not until the 22nd over that the New Zealanders broke the partnership for the second wicket. Driving extravagantly at a looping delivery from Vettori, Atapattu failed to clear a lunging Harris at covers who took a good catch two handed. Atapattu's 22 (42 balls, 65 mins, 1 four) helped Jayasuriya put on 56 for the second wicket.

Mahela Jayawardane, a classy batsman in his own right, replaced Atapattu out in the middle. From 95/2, Jayawardane watched as Jayasuriya posted his 43rd limited overs international half century. By Jayasuriya's explosive standards, the half century came in sedate fashion, taking all of 82 balls. Interestingly, Jayasuriya's early burst of boundaries (6 in the first 15 overs) dried up as Harris and Vettori got through their overs in quick time.

After going wicketless for 7 overs Vettori was replaced in the bowling attack by Nathan Astle. The change bowler almost paid instant dividends as a booming drive from Jayasuriya sailed towards the fielder on the fence at covers before falling safe. As it happened, the very next over proved to be the undoing of Jayawardane. Losing his concentration Jayawardane slogged a ball from Harris across the line straight to Craig McMillan at midwicket. Jayawardane's 14 came off 24 balls.

Russel Arnold, who has played so many crucial cameos for Sri Lanka teamed up with his skipper to take the Lankan total towards respectability. Chipping and slicing the bowling through the off side Arnold began positively while an unusually guarded Jayasuriya was unbeaten on 60 at the end of 30 overs. Sri Lanka were 137/3 and in a good position to post a challenging total.



JAYASURIYA GETS LANKA OFF TO STEADY START

As Daryl Tuffey charged in to deliver the first ball of the Coca-Cola Cup at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, the stage was set for an explosive match. Sanath Jayasuriya and Avishka Gunawardane, two free stroking southpaws began the Sri Lankan campaign with the willow. As it turned out, Tuffey sent the first ball of the match for a big wide down the leg side, which evaded Adam Parore behind the stumps and Sri Lanka were on their way.

However, it was not all smooth sailing for the hosts as Jayasuriya padded up to a straight one from Tuffey in the very first over of the day. With the ball climbing well off a good firm wicket, it was only the bounce that saved the Lankan captain from being adjudged lbw.

The opening partnership of Jayasuriya and Gunawardane worked well together, negating the natural outswing that Tuffey and Kyle Mills generated. The Kiwi opening bowlers often strayed onto the pads of the batsmen, being anxious not to give the two left handers any width outside the off stump.

With Tuffey struggling a bit with no-ball trouble and giving away runs in the process, the Sri Lankans were coasting along well when the first wicket fell, against the grain of play. Having crashed Mills through the covers for a forceful boundary, Gunawardane looked to repeat the stroke against Tuffey. A bit of extra bounce had Gunawardane driving on the up and straight into the hands of Daniel Vettori at short cover. Gunawardane's 13 came off 22 balls and included two handsomely struck boundaries.

The stylish Marvan Atapattu came in at the fall of the first wicket and in the presence of his skipper took Sri Lanka to 72/1 off the first 15 overs. Jayasuriya unbeaten on 32 (51 balls, 6 fours) mixed caution with aggression judiciously.



SRI LANKA ELECT TO BAT FIRST IN COCA-COLA CUP OPENER

The Coca-Cola Cup in Sri Lanka kicked off at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo with home captain Sanath Jayasuriya winning the toss and electing to bat first. Itís a bit cloudy and overcast and the conditions might help the New Zealanders a bit early on. For Sri Lanka Jayasuriya leads a team whose bowling attack includes Chaminda Vaas, Suresh Perera, Dilhara Fernando, Kumara Dharmasena and of course the trump card Muthiah Muralitharan. The batting line up of the home side looks good with Jayasuriya, Marvan Atapattu, Mahela Jayawardane, Russel Arnold and Avishka Gunawardane being the frontline batsmen.

Coming off a stint for Middlesex in England, Stephen Fleming has at his disposal Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan, Matthew Sinclair and Chris Harris in the batting department. Not long ago Jayasuriya said that New Zealand and not India were the team to beat in the tournament. On that note begins what should be a cracker of a tournament.

Sri Lanka team: *ST Jayasuriya, MS Atapattu, DPMD Jayawardene, RP Arnold, +RS Kaluwitharana, DA Gunawardene, HDPK Dharmasena, WPUJC Vaas, ASA Perera, CRD Fernando, M Muralitharan, (K Sangakkara 12th man),

New Zealand team: *SP Fleming, NJ Astle, CZ Harris, +AC Parore, CD McMillan, MS Sinclair, DR Tuffey, DL Vettori, KD Mills, JDP Oram, L Vincent, (JEC Franklin 12th man)

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Date-stamped : 18 Jul2001 - 22:27