Charith Asalanka and Kusal Mendis celebrating Sri Lanka’s Super Over victory (AFP Photo)
Charith Asalanka, Maheesh Theekshana and Kusal Perera all shone as Sri Lanka won their first match on their tour of New Zealand
Sri Lanka defeated New Zealand in the first T20I of the three-match series to bounce back from the ODI series disappointment with a thrilling Super Over win.
While the Kiwis claimed the ODI series 2-0, which complicated the Lankan Lions’ direct qualification route to the ODI World Cup 2023 that is due to be hosted in India later this year, Dasun Shanaka’s men began the T20I series on a stunning note. It was also the first victory of the visiting team on their tour of New Zealand, the match went into a tie-breaker after both sides scored 196 runs in the high-scoring thriller at Eden Park.
The hosts could only manage to score 8 runs for the loss of two wickets with spinner Maheesh Theekshana impressing with his tight lines, and later, Charith Asalanka smashed a six and a boundary to seal the resounding win. Earlier, Asalanka had also scored a 67-run knock to help the Lankan Lions reach the improbable target.
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The Player of the Match, Asalanka was happy with his side’s performance.
“That was a really nervous game and at the end, it’s our day,” said the middle-order batter. “I tried to hit boundaries because I back myself. Momentum is most important for a team like us, a young team, and we’re hoping to do well,” he added.
The second T20I will be played in Dunedin on Wednesday before the final game of the series at Queenstown next Saturday.
Earlier in the match, New Zealand skipper Tom Latham won the toss and elected to bowl first. Kusal Mendis gave the visitors a decent start, after which Kusal Perera found his groove and he returned unbeaten at 53. Together with Asalanka, the duo helped Sri Lanka to a big total, while Wanindu Hasaranga also scored 21 to put the finishing touch on the total.
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James Neesham got 2 wickets, while the rest of the bowlers got one each except Ish Sodhi. In reply, the home side lost their openers early but Latham provided some impetus with a 27-run inning, Daryl Mitchell smashed 66, and Mark Chapman also added 33 runs to the cause.
New Zealand’s middle order came to their rescue as Neesham also scored 19 while Rachin Ravindra added 26. Sodhi and Shipley got the hosts to the 196-run target thus setting up a Super Over.
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