Cricket World Cup 2019: New Zealand need just 16.1 overs to thrash Sri Lanka
Emphatic victory for the 2015 finalists in their opening game of tournament in Cardiff
The decision to slash cricket’s World Cup from 14 teams to 10 has attracted much criticism. Most of that, naturally, has come from countries outside the exclusive group that have congregated in the UK for this tournament.
The thinking of the ICC goes that restricting the number of teams to those at the top of the rankings will limit the number of one-sided mismatches.
What the decision-makers could have done without, therefore, is the teams who are involved trolling them. The first three matches of the competition were blow-outs, culminating in Sri Lanka being summarily thrashed by New Zealand in Cardiff.
After South Africa were beaten by 104 runs by England on Day 1, and Pakistan crumbled to 105 all out on Day 2, New Zealand beat Sri Lanka with 10 wickets and 203 balls to spare. It was a cakewalk.
If there was anything to mitigate Sri Lanka’s performance, it was the fact the New Zealanders won the toss and had first use of a pitch that looked as though it had never even seen a lawn-mower.
The Black Caps bowlers made perfect use of the assistance, while the Sri Lankan batsmen crumbled.
Matt Henry earned the match award for the three quick wickets with the new ball that as good as settled the game in New Zealand’s favour. It marked quite the return for the quick bowler, who might have been spooked by taking two for 107 off nine overs in his previous outing.
“Matt had a tough time against the West Indies in the last warm-up game, but bowling to that lot was pretty difficult, and they can put you out the park pretty easily,” Martin Guptill, the New Zealand batsman, said.
“He came back and put the ball in the right area, he got the rewards that he deserved.”
Guptill had himself thrived with the batting, making 73 not out off 51 balls. His opening partner Colin Munro made 58 not out off 47, as they rushed to their target of 137 in just 16.1 overs.
It meant New Zealand went second in the standings, with their enviable run-rate of 5.754 just shy of the 5.802 West Indies achieved in thrashing Pakistan a day earlier.
“Once we had them seven or eight down it was about trying to knock them over as quickly as possible, and then knock the runs off as quick as possible as well,” Guptill said.
“We have got a healthy run rate at the moment, so hopefully we can take it through the rest of the tournament.”
Dimuth Karunaratne, in just his second one-day international since the last World Cup, carried his bat for a half century.
The new Sri Lanka captain set an example which his teammates were incapable of following, though.
He was critical of the state of the pitch, but also said his batsmen need to adapt quicker when the conditions require it.
“Everyone is here to watch some entertainment,” Karunaratne said, when asked if he had expected such a bowler-friendly wicket.
“The day before yesterday I think they left the grass on, but we thought it was going to be cut. [But] they left the same grass there.
“In the World Cup, everyone wants to see a good, high-scoring match. Hopefully we get good wickets on the next few matches. We will try to do our best.
“It’s not easy. This was not a 300 wicket, so you need to have another game plan. You can’t go there and hit every ball, so you have to stay calm, sometimes give them a chance, and give us a chance to settle down.”
Updated: June 1, 2019 08:05 PM