New Zealand pulled off a dramatic two-wicket victory against Sri Lanka in the last over of the opening game of the Twenty20 World Cup on Friday. A large and lively Guyanese crowd witnessed a spectacular finish as Nathan McCullum won the game by hitting paceman Lasith Malinga for six over long off. McCullum, named man of the match after also picking up one for 17 in his three overs with the ball and taking three catches in the deep, let out a loud yell as he struck the decisive blow. New Zealand needed 20 off the last two overs, chasing Sri Lanka’s 135 for six on a slow track which included an outstanding innings from opener Mahela Jayawardene. Jayawardene made 81 from 51 balls, with eight fours and two sixes, and was helped by 20-year-old Dinesh Chandimal (29). The fun atmosphere at the Providence Stadium was in marked contrast to the flat mood for the World Cup three years ago and was helped by some lively dancing from Caribbean-style cheerleaders. Jesse Ryder’s punchy 42 off 27 balls got New Zealand off to a decent start but some intelligent bowling and smart fielding from last year’s runners-up Sri Lanka kept things tight until, with three runs needed from the last two balls, McCullum struck. “I guess 135 was a pretty good total and we knew how difficult Sri Lanka could be with their bowlers,” said New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori. “We put ourselves under pressure with the way we batted in the middle but Jacob Oram (with a quick 15) and McCullum rescued us in the end. It was easier for Nathan to hit at the end and his six was pretty amazing.” The defeat leaves Sri Lanka needing victory in their second group game against Zimbabwe and skipper Kumar Sangakkara said it was important his batsmen improved. “We fell about 10-12 runs short, Mahela batted well with Chandimal but we need to convert good starts into good totals and improve our fielding,” he said. Scoreboard Sri Lanka innings M.Jayawardene c N.McCullum b Southee 81 T.Dilshan b Oram 3 K.Sangakkara b Styris 4 D.Chandimal c Taylor b N.McCullum 29 C.Kapugedera c N.McCullum b Bond 11 A.Mathews c N.McCullum b Bond 3 S.Jayasuriya not out 0 Extras (lb-3, w-1)4 Total (6 wickets, 20 overs)135 Fall of wickets: 1-35, 2-44, 3-103, 4-124, 5-135, 6-135 Bowling: N.McCullum 3-0-17-1 (w-1), Bond 4-0-35-2, Southee 4-0-21-1, Oram 3-0-23-1, Vettori 4-0-23-0, Styris 2-0-13-1 New Zealand innings B.McCullum c Malinga b Mathews 0 J.Ryder b Muralitharan 42 M.Guptill b Jayasuriya 19 R.Taylor c Matthews b Muralitharan 9 S.Styris b Mendis 17 D.Vettori run out 17 J.Oram b Welegedara 15 G.Hopkins run out 1 N.McCullum not out 16 T.Southee not out 0 Extras (b-2, w-1)3 Total (8 wickets, 19.5 overs)139 Bowling: Mathews 2-2-7-1, Welegedara 2-0-21-1 (w-1), Mendis 4-0-34-1, Malinga 3.5-0-33-0, Muralitharan 4-0-25-2, Jayasuriya 4-0-17-1
By: Dawn News