New Zealand thrashed Sri Lanka by ten wickets at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, Wales on Day 3 of the Cricket World Cup.
After bowling Sri Lanka all out for 136 all out, New Zealand chased down the winning total without losing a wicket, and they only required 16.1 overs to do so.
The New Zealand pace bowlers made the most of a green top wicket, which is very rare in international cricket in the current era, and they were backed up by some fantastic fielding.
After hitting the first ball of the match for four, opener Lahiru Thirimanne was then dismissed the next ball lbw by Matthew Henry.
Captain Dimuth Karunaratne and number three Kusal Perera seemingly resuscitated the innings with a determined 42-run partnership off 47 balls.
However, Perera was caught out by Colin de Grandhomme off the bowling of Henry, finishing on 29 runs from 24 balls.
Henry immediately inflicted more damage by claiming the wicket of Kusal Mendis, who was caught by Martin Guptill, for a golden duck. This disastrous start left the Lankans 46-3 from 8.2 overs.
New Zealand began to suffocate the Sri Lankan batsmen and the runs started to dry up. Dhananjaya de Silva (4 runs from 13 balls) was out lbw to Lockie Feguson in the 15th over. Jeevan Mendis soon followed in the next over with a duck, caught by Tom Latham from the bowling of de Grandhomme.
Karunaratne and Thisara Perera mustered a partnership of 52 from 50 balls, the most successful of the Sri Lankan innings.
Nevertheless, Perera (27 runs from 23 balls) was caught by Trent Boult from the bowling of Mitchell Santner in the 24th over. The following over, Isuru Udana fell for a duck.
The final two partnerships added another 22 runs, as Sri Lanka finished 136 all out from 29.2 overs to cap off a woeful display.
The only ray of sunshine was Sri Lanka’s captain, Dimuth Karunaratne, with his slow and steady 52 from 84 balls. He became only the second opening batsman in Cricket World Cup history to carry bat. The first to do so was Ridley Jacobs in 1999.
The New Zealand opening pair reached their winning total of 137 with ease. Martin Guptill scored 73 not out from 51 balls, and Colin Munro finished 58 not out from 47 balls.
Matt Henry deservedly earned the Man of the Match award for his 3 for 29 from 7 overs. Collecting his award after the match, he said: “You don’t get too many one-day wickets like that.”
Sri Lanka will desperately hope to improve as the tournament progresses. For the last two decades they have really punched above their weight with a golden generation of players. Now that most of these players have retired, they do not look like the same team.
Despite their limited resources, New Zealand are a well-rounded team who are strong in each department. They have fast bowlers, power-hitting batsmen and athletic fielders.
Many see the Black Caps as the dark horse at this Cricket World Cup, and while they will remain humble, the 2015 finalists will certainly fancy themselves.
All images courtesy of the ICC Cricket World Cup Twitter account