Henry Nicholls of New Zealand reacts to Kusal Mendis of Sri Lanka with the bat during the 3rd One Day International cricket match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka at Seddon Park on March 31, 2023 in Hamilton. photo credit: AFP
New Zealand capitalized on another failure by Sri Lanka’s batsmen to win the third one-day international by six wickets in Hamilton on Friday and seal the three-match series 2-0.
After being bowled out for only 76 in the first match – which New Zealand won by 198 runs – Sri Lanka were bowled out for 157 in 41.3 overs as they elected to bat after winning the toss in Game 3. The second match was abandoned due to rain.
New Zealand were also in early trouble when they lost two wickets in the second over of their innings and were 6–2, then 21–3. But Will Young, who had been out of form scoring only 30 runs in his previous four ODI innings, returned to form with an unbeaten 86 which handed New Zealand the win with 17.1 overs to spare.
Young and Henry Nicholls (44) shared an unbroken partnership of exactly 100 runs for the fifth wicket.
Like all of Friday’s batsmen, Young had moments of danger in his innings and at times seemed to hang the bat outside the off-stump. But he persevered and eventually brought up his half-century in 71 balls, playing mostly with sound technique rather than trying to hit recklessly.
“I’m looking forward to spending some time in the middle and contributing a bit to the team,” Henry said. “To end up with a series win was also very special.
“It was a bit tricky to be honest. There were some good bowling and patches when he hit his length. It wasn’t always pretty but we got the job done in the end.
New Zealand’s fast bowlers laid the foundation for victory with another brilliant performance. Henry Shipley, who took 5-31 in the first match, returned with 3-32 on Friday to make his first home series a big success.
Matt Henry took 3-14 and produced an excellent opening spell in which he removed Nuwanidu Fernando (2) and Kusal Mendis (0) as Sri Lanka trailed 23-3 at the end of the first 10 overs powerplay.
Sri Lanka were unable to stitch together partnerships that could break New Zealand’s grip on the match, even as opener Pathum Nissanka became the potential anchor with his 57 off 58 balls.
Apart from Nissanka, only three Sri Lankan batsmen reached double figures. Of these, captain Dasun Shanaka scored 31 runs in 38 balls.
New Zealand’s bowling was excellent. After Henry and Shipley, Daryl Mitchell took 3–32 from seven overs.
The pitch at Seddon Park was similar to the pitch at Eden Park in Auckland, on which Sri Lanka were dismissed for their lowest ODI score against New Zealand. Initially bowlers were rewarded for full lengths as the ball skimmed or stayed a bit off the surface and made timing difficult. The bounce, which was sometimes sharp, sometimes like a tennis ball, was difficult to gauge.
“I think as a bowling group we talked about being ruthless enough, controlling the game and we’re pleased with the effort,” Henry said. “It’s been a great start for Henry (Shipley) and we’ve talked about collectively being good for a long time.”
Henry first had the wicket of Nuwanidu, who leaned forward on a ball that pitched into his pads, giving a simple and easy catch to Henry Nicholls in the slips. Most of the wickets that fell on Friday were behind the wickets.
Henry then removed Kusal Mendis for a six-ball duck. The ball was full again, just outside off-stump, and Mendis edged a catch to Daryl Mitchell at first slip.
Henry twice overturned decisions against Nissanka before Shipley stepped forward and dismissed Angelo Mathews, who defended a straight ball and gave Mitchell another slip catch.
Nissanka held on till Sri Lanka’s score was 100-6. Some others stayed on long enough to make more challenging totals.
New Zealand’s top order also struggled in the conditions. Chad Bowes was caught by Mendis on the first ball of the second over and Blundell was also caught behind on the sixth ball of Lahiru Kumara’s over.
Mitchell gave Mendis another catch off Kasun Rajitha and Latham cut Shanaka’s delivery well wide of the off-stump.
Young and Nicholls saw New Zealand home with plenty of overs to spare. New Zealand are now unbeaten in their last six One Day International series at home. It also leads the Super League standings for the ICC World Cup to be held in India later this year.
After losing the series, Sri Lanka will not automatically qualify for the World Cup and will now have to go through a repechage to qualify.