Jesse Ryder gave his New Zealand teammates the perfect parting gift by posting a decisive half-century against Sri Lanka, before signing off from the Champions Trophy for good because of injury. The burly left-hander pulled an abductor muscle while on just five. Yet, batting with a runner, he proceeded to a blazing knock of 74 from 58 balls to lay the platform for his unheralded side to topple a team tipped by many to be potential champions.
Victory was sweet for the Black Caps, not least because it safeguarded their place in the tournament having lost their first game to South Africa. The Sri Lankans got the better of them in Tests and a tri-nation series, also featuring India, in the build up to the Champions Trophy. This was also a re-match of the World Cup semi-final of 2007, which the Sri Lankans also won. The revenge came at a cost, though, and a replacement for Ryder will now have to be flown in.
Ryder is their second player to be ruled out since the start of this tournament, after Jacob Oram was sent home with an injured hamstring. His replacement, James Franklin, has been out of the Kiwi one-day set-up for some time now, but, he made a seamless transition as he continued his fine form during the county season. He arrived virtually straight off the plane from England, having just completed a century in the final match of the season for Gloucestershire in the English County Championship.
Franklin could be regarded as a batting all-rounder, such has been his form in the UK, while New Zealand supporters probably recognise him more as a left-arm pace-bowler. He played his part with the bat first, making a quick-fire unbeaten 28 at the end of the innings to help his side cross the 300- run mark and finish with 315 for seven. Then, when Sri Lanka had their turn with the bat, Franklin pouched the key wicket of Kumar Sangakkara and followed that quickly with Angelo Mathews.
New Zealand seized control when the openers Tillekeratne Dilshan and Sanath Jayasuriya followed each other in quick succession after setting a lightning pace to the start of their innings. Jayasuriya, in his 41st year and playing his 441st limited-overs international, had earlier taken three for 39 to remind the Sri Lankans that spin is still vital - no matter how seamer-friendly the pitch was. Amazingly, they had overlooked Muttiah Muralitharan - who has 1,295 international wickets to his name - before the start of play.
Sangakkara reasoned: "It's unfortunate that the best bowler in the world has to sit out but he is the first guy who came up and said, 'I don't think I should play here'. We are very lucky to have people like him." Once Mahela Jayawardene had fallen for a typically elegant 77, Sri Lanka's reply was all but sunk despite a fighting unbeaten knock of 57 from Nuwan Kulasekara late down the order. They eventually fell short by 38 runs.