Sri Lanka in New Zealand, 3 ODI Series, 2019
Venue: Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
Date & Time: 05 January 2019
RR: 6.43 | New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by 21 runs
Right then! The second ODI ends. What a humdinger of a game. Still recovering from the blues. The series is gone but Sri Lanka have begun 2019 on a wonderful note. Fought hard in the first ODI, almost crossed the line here. Can they get lucky the third time and avoid a whitewash? The third and final ODI is a day game and will be played on Tuesday, January 8, 2018 at 11 am local (2200 GMT, previous night). ADIOS! TAKE CARE!
Victorious New Zealand captain, Kane Williamson, says that they were clinical for nearly 85 percent of the game. Praises his batters for batting well and his bowlers for doing a great job, till Thisara came along. Is reminded of that Marcus Stoinis knock at Eden Park. Admits that too many fumbles were made, including himself and is relieved that it did not cost them the match. Stresses that the side needs to move on from here and focus on the next game and try to maintain the same intensity. On the team as a whole, Williamson is happy with the guys performing their roles better. Is happier for this game because his batsmen adjusted on a slower wicket. Sees these as good signs for the future but wants his unit to react well to momentum shifts as it does not take time for the tides to change. Credits Jimmy Neesham for doing well with the bat and adds that it was his knock which was able to ward off the Thisara threat in this game. Is excited to witness the new age of New Zealand cricket.
Sri Lankan skipper, Lasith Malinga, manages to put in a smile. He says that in spite of getting good partnerships at the top, the middle order collapsed. Praises Thisara Perera and reckons that he always believed that he is a match-winner. Like Thisara, Malinga too, says that the Lankans learnt a lot from the first game, especially bowling according to the wind factor. On the final match, Lasith says that they have the talent but they need to play according to the situation by analyzing things correctly.
THISARA PERERA HAS BEEN NAMED THE MAN OF THE MATCH. Anyone surprised? Not really. Perera says that he is really proud of himself as he got his maiden ODI century. Stresses that in the last couple of years, he has been batting at number 9. If he gets to bat at number 7 or higher, he reckons he can play more valuable knocks. Thanks the management for giving him that opportunity. On his knock today, Thisara says that he figured out that in the previous match, the Lankan batters struggled to hit big shots because of the wind. So he planned accordingly in this game. Adds that once Malinga got out, he was trying to face as many balls as possible, as many as 5 in an over. On being asked about revenge against Neesham and trying to hit 6 sixes in an over, Thisara smiles humbly and says that he does not look for revenge or any such stuff. Just concentrates on playing the game. What a modest fellow.
Earlier in the day, the Kiwis rakes up 319/7 after electing to bat on a sluggish surface. They lost two wickets cheaply but Munro's 87, Taylor's 90 and a quickfire 64 from 37 by Jimmy Neesham took them past the 300-mark. Looking at the margin of victory, one can just sense the importance of that Neesham knock. Please stay tuned for the presentation...
Coming to the bowling, it was clinical for most part from the Kiwis. They kept their cool when wickets were not coming regularly and then that period in the middle stages where Sri Lanka lost 6/16 in 5 overs turned the tide. However, after that plenty of dropped catches were put down - as many as 7 - which nearly cost them the game. Ish Sodhi was the pick of the bowlers, with 3/55.
It has been so much Thisara Thisara Thisara that we barely feel like describing anyone else. But we have to. There was another player who fought hard, with a 73-ball 71. Danushka Gunathilaka. When he was there in the middle, it seemed like Sri Lanka were in with a chance. But Kusal Mendis' wicket triggered a collapse as the Lankans slipped from 112/2 to 128/7. Just imagine the work put in by Thisara.
In a team's total of 298, one man scores 140. All the sixes in this innings were hit by him - 13 to be precise - almost letting out his frustration on having conceded 10 sixes in 2 matches. But one guesses that in the end, it was just too much work to do. He tried hard, aiming to fathom a ridiculous win but in the end, the team deserving to win the game for 85 percent of the time eventually won. This was pretty similar to the Marcus Stoinis' knock at Eden Park, Auckland on January 30, 2017 - where his unbeaten 146 off 117 revived the Aussies from 67/6 to 280 - falling just 6 short.
Sigh. Pity that this game had to end in this manner. When Stumps were drawn on the third day of the Australia-India Test, Sri Lanka did not deserve to win. When a T20 league had kicked off somewhere in Bangladesh and another one was being played in Australia, we were dreaming of going home early. When the South Africa-Pakistan Test resumed, we were wondering what are the players still doing out there in the middle. But now, as the clock touches 9 am in Greenwich Meridian Time, a sad thought crosses our hearts - couldn't Lady Luck stay with Thisara for a few balls more?
Whether you are a Kiwi supporter, or a Sri Lankan fan or care for neither - you have just got to stand up and applaud. NARANGODA LIYANAARACHCHILAGE THISARA CHIRANTHA PERERA - take a bow. What a knock. Period. What a knock. Exclamation. The entire Bay Oval is standing up as one to applaud. None of the Kiwi team members are celebrating. Showing good courtesy, each and every player is beside Thisara, hugging him and patting him on the back. Sportsmanship of the greatest level. And what is that man made of? Thisara does not show his disappointment. Takes his helmet off, smiles to each and everyone, politely shaking hands, as if it is his last day in the office and everyone is wishing him good luck for the future. What a human being. Floored.
Problems! Thisara Perera has called for the physio. He is down on the ground. Cramps? Back issue? Hamstring? He is being given some stretching exercises now...
Matt Henry has been summoned. 9-1-48-1 so far. Can he remove the tail-ender and end the game?
We have lost the ball. It has gone somewhere into the car park and one reckons that a kid has it in his hand. Runs away when the camera focusses on him. A replacement ball is brought on.
Nuwan Pradeep is the last man in. Tim Southee to bowl as well. 6-0-41-1 so far.
Jimmy Neesham is back on. 5-0-32-1 so far.
The crowd getting excited... Can Thisara Perera get to his ton
We have a Powerplay 3. Did not think it would go this far. 5 fielders allowed outside the 30-yard circle. Tim Southee is back on. 5-0-39-1 so far.
Lakshan Sandakan is in at number 10. Can he hang around with Thisara to help him get close to a century?
DRINKS BREAK. Matt Henry is back on. 6-1-27-1 so far.
Trent Boult is back on. 5-1-22-0 so far.
Review time again. Sodhi reckons that he has Malinga plumb in front. What does the third umpire have to say on this? Looks close. Really close...
Williamson going for the kill. Tim Southee has been brought back. 3-0-19-1 so far.
Into the bowlers now. Lasith Malinga is the first of them.
Seekkuge Prasanna is in at number 8, replacing Gunaratne.
Is that wicket number 6? A run out appeal is referred upstairs...
Into the bowlers who can bat. Or batsmen who can bowl. Or players who can hit the ball hard. Whatever. They are termed all-rounders. Thisara Perera is the first of them.
Asela Gunaratne walks in next at number 6, replacing Gunathilaka.
Dinesh Chandimal walks in at number 5, replacing Mendis.
James Neesham is on now.
Ish Sodhi is on now.
One Kusal replaces the other. Mendis comes out at number 4.
Powerplay 2 has been signaled now! A maximum of 4 fielders can be placed outside the ring till the 40th over. Also, Kane Williamson has brought himself into the attack.
Matt Henry is on now.
Kusal Perera comes in at number 3, replacing Dickwella.
Tim Southee to bowl with the second new ball.
The beautiful Bay Oval is bathed in sunshine as the Kiwis get into a huddle. Out come the Lankan openers now - Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka. 119 last time around. Can they do it again? Here comes Trent Boult. He will bowl to Dickwella first up.