Tharanga shows the way

The opener guides Sri Lanka to a three-wicket victory over New Zealand with a solid half-century in the triangular one-day series

Upul Tharanga, the Sri Lankan opening batsman, sets off for a run during his country's three-wicket win over New Zealand yesterday. Tharanga top-scored for Sri Lanka with 70.
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DAMBULA, SRI LANKA // Upul Tharanga guided Sri Lanka to a three-wicket victory over New Zealand with a solid half-century in the triangular one-day series yesterday. The left-handed opener hit nine fours in his 109-ball 70 as Sri Lanka achieved a 193-run target with more than nine overs to spare in the day-night match in Dambulla.

Lasith Malinga (three for 35) and Angelo Mathews (three for 36), the Sri Lanka pacemen, played key roles in restricting New Zealand to a modest total before Tharanga ensured the win with his 17th half-century in one-day internationals. "It was tough because they got the best batting conditions, but our bowlers started really well and the spinners came into the game midway through," said Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka captain.

"We managed to pick wickets at regular intervals. It was important for us to get the bonus point, but it was not to be. I am pretty happy with the win." New Zealand, who beat India by 200 runs in the opening match on Tuesday, tasted early success when fast bowler Kyle Mills removed Tillakaratne Dilshan in his second over. Sangakkara and Tharanga steadied the innings with an 85-run stand for the second wicket. The Sri Lanka captain made 48 before falling to a superb catch by Martin Guptill in the covers off seamer Scott Styris.

Tharanga, dropped on 44 by Styris in the slips off spinner Nathan McCullum, was caught in the deep by debutant Bradley-John Watling off Mills, but not before putting his team in a strong position. Thilan Samaraweera (36 not out) completed the win when he hit a four off Mills, who was the most successful bowler with figures of four for 41. "We were outplayed. A total of 190 could have been enough if we had taken wickets. That didn't happen," said Ross Taylor, the New Zealand captain.

"We picked up three or four wickets towards the end which made it appear a lot closer than it really was. Watling played really well. It's not easy when you are facing Malinga for the first time." Sri Lanka earlier did not allow New Zealand to build a big partnership, the highest stand being 52 runs for the fourth wicket between opener Watling (55) and all-rounder Styris (24). McCullum contributed 36.

Malinga struck with the second delivery of the match when he had Guptill caught by Chamara Kapugedara for his 100th victim in one-day internationals. Watling and Taylor (16) then put on 45 for the third wicket before Mathews bagged two wickets off three balls. Mathews trapped the New Zealand captain leg-before and then had Kane Williamson caught by Samaraweera in the slips. Watling, 25, completed his half-century in style when he hit left-arm spinner Rangana Herath for a four. He fell soon, top-edging a pull off Mathews to be caught by wicket-keeper Sangakkara. He struck eight fours in his 68-ball knock. Malinga grabbed two wickets off successive balls in his second spell, dismissing Gareth Hopkins (11) and Daryl Tuffey for no score. * Agency France-Presse

New Zealand Watling c Sangakkara b Mathews 55 Guptill c Kapugedera b Malinga 0 Taylor lbw b Mathews 16 Williamson c Samaraweera b Mathews 0 Styris c Jayawardene b Hesath 24 Hopkins c Kapugedera b Malinga 11 McCullum c Herath b Mendis 36 Tuffey b Malinga 0 Mills c Mathews b Hesath 11 Southee c Dilshan b Kulasekara 13 McKay not out 4 Extras 10w, 5b, 4lb, 3nb 22 Total (all out, 48.1 overs) 192 Fall of wickets: 1-2; 2-47; 3-47; 4-99; 5-101; 6-123; 7-123; 8-143; 9-178; 10-192; Bowling: Malinga 10-1-35-3; Kulasekara 8.1-1-35-1; Mathews 10-1-36-3; Mendis 10-0-42-1; Herath 10-0-35-2; Sri Lanka Tharanga c Watling b Mills 70 Dilshan c & b Mills 5 Sangakkara c Guptill b Styris 48 Jayawardene c Taylor b McCullum 5 Samaraweera not out 36 Mathews c Taylor b Mills 0 Kulasekara c Hopkins b Southee 7 Herath c Taylor b Mills 2 Kapugedera not out 9 Extras 8w, 4b, 1lb 13 Total (seven wickets, 40.3 overs) 195 Fall of wickets: 1-11; 2-96; 3-119; 4-162; 5-164; 6-177; 7-180; Bowling: Mills 9.3-1-37-4; Tuffey 5-0-31-0; Southlee 6-0-41-1; McKay 4-0-26-0; McCullum 7-0-23-1; Williamson 1-0-6-0; Styris 8-0-22-1 Sri Lanka won by three wickets