Sri Lanka’s barren run against New Zealand finally came to a halt after the visitors got over the line in a thrilling T20I series opener in Auckland. The Asian side registered their first win of the tour after edging past the Kiwis in a super over. Charith Asalanka and Maheesh Theekshana were the heroes for the visitors as they kept their cool in the super over.
Chasing an above-par total, New Zealand were rocked early as they lost both their openers inside the first two overs of the chase. That is when skipper Tom Latham and Daryl Mitchell steadied the ship for the Kiwis with a solid stand for the third wicket.
Despite Latham’s dismissal, the Blackcaps were in a solid position in the chase, thanks to Mitchell and Mark Chapman’s brisk partnership. However, Sri Lanka clawed their way back into the match when both the set batters were dismissed in quick succession. James Neesham’s departure felt like the final nail in the coffin for the home side before Rachin Ravindra smashed Chamika Karunaratne for two sixes and a boundary to bring New Zealand back from the dead.
It felt like the match had slipped from New Zealand’s grasp when they needed seven runs from the final delivery, but the home side found an unlikely hero in Ish Sodhi, who sent the match into a super over after smashing Dasun Shanaka for a maximum on the last delivery. The home side could manage just eight runs in the super over as Theekshana spun a web around the Kiwi batters. Asalanka sealed the win for the Lankans after smashing Adam Milna for a six and a boundary in the super over.
Charith Asalanka’s brisk half-century helped Sri Lanka to a challenging total
Sri Lanka were put into bat first by New Zealand skipper Tom Latham, who won the toss and elected to field first on a belter of a wicket in Auckland. His decision turned out to be a masterstroke as the returning Adam Milne nicked off Pathum Nissanka on the very first delivery of the match.
Despite that initial setback, the visitors got off to a rollicking start, thanks to a scathing assault from Kusal Mendis, who smoked 25 runs off just nine deliveries. Dhananjaya de Silva was the third Sri Lankan batter to depart in the powerplay. The home side were threatening to make a comeback in the match, but Kusal Perera and Charith Asalanka kept them on the bay with a magnificent 103-run stand for the fourth wicket.
While Perera held the innings together, Asalanka was quite severe on anything loose. Wanindu Hasranaga’s explosive cameo at the end was the icing on the cake for the visitors as they made their way to 196 runs in their 20 overs.