NZ vs SL: Ton-up Williamson leads New Zealand to victory over Sri LankaNelson, New Zealand: Kane Williamson scored 103 to rescue an ailing New Zealand innings Tuesday and steer it to a four-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the fourth one-day cricket international for a 2-1 lead
Nelson, New Zealand: Kane Williamson scored 103 to rescue an ailing New Zealand innings Tuesday and steer it to a four-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the fourth one-day cricket international for a 2-1 lead in the seven-match series.
Williamson returned to the lineup after a two-match absence with a shoulder injury to score his fifth one-day international century and to propel New Zealand to its winning target of 277 with 11 balls to spare.
New Zealand's dependence on Brendon McCullum to ignite its innings was briefly exposed when he was out for 11 as it slumped to 63 for three. Williamson took charge, showed composure when the run-rate seemed to lag, and left New Zealand's last four batsmen to gather a relatively undemanding 44 from 36 balls when he was out in the 44th over.
He had significant assistance from Grant Elliott (44), who was also returning from a two-match absence caused by a family illness, with whom he put on 110 for the fourth wicket. Elliott was a surprise selection in New Zealand's World Cup squad but showed his experience — the reason for the selectors' faith in him — with his calm innings of 58 balls.
Williamson then combined with Corey Anderson to add 79 in a partnership for the fifth wicket.
Anderson made 47 and was run out 15 runs after Williamson departed — with 32 still required from 26 balls — but New Zealand had the considerable experience of Luke Ronchi (32 not out) and Daniel Vettori (7) to fall back on and they saw their team home without further loss.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said his team was fortunate to be chasing only 277 when Sri Lanka had set itself up early for a score in excess of 300.
"It was a reasonable effort from the bowlers to give us a score under par," he said. "Then I guess the class of Kane in a really handy partnership with Grant showed how an experienced player can deal with a tough situation and formulate a game plan."
Sri Lanka had been set on course to a much more competitive total by veterans Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan who combined to propel them to 276, batting first.
Jayawardene top-scored with 94, his 77th half century in 438th international, to drive Sri Lanka's scoring rate through the second half of the innings.
Sangakkara made 76, his 92nd one-day international half century, and paced the innings through its first 33 overs. In doing so he moved into third place behind Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting on the all-time list of run scorers in the 50 overs game, overtaking compatriot Senath Jayusuriya.
Dilshan made 44 and shared a 102-run partnership with Sangakkara which had Sri Lanka on target early for a score in excess of 300 before its innings fizzled out, disappointingly, in 49.3 overs.
Fast bowler Adam Milne dismissed Sangakkara and captain Angelo Mathews — who won the toss — with consecutive balls in the 34th over to arrest Sri Lanka's scoring rate before Jayawardene restored some momentum with his 94 from 82 balls.
"Especially after the start that we got, our middle order and lower middle order batted poorly," Mathews said. "We kept losing wickets and eventually we were 30 or 40 runs short."