Sri Lanka off to a slow start
Sri Lanka, finalists in the last edition of the T20 World Cup, got off to a rather sedate start against New Zealand in their opening encounter in Guyana on Friday.
Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan opened the innings after Kumar Sangakkara called correctly and opted to bat first.
But the Lankan openers were very slow. Dilshan (3 of 19) was a shadow of his attacking self.
Jayawardene (81 off 51) was slow off the tracks but later picked pace and went on the attack.
His breezy 51-ball innings was a classic example of effortless sensible hitting. He played a classic knock that was inclusive of eight fours and two sixes.
Image: Mahela Jayawardene
Jayawardene, Chandimal prop Lanka
Out-of-form Dilshan's stay at the crease was a struggle which finally ended with Jacob Oram castling the opener's stumps in the sixth over.
Sangakkara too found runs hard to come by on the slow wicket; he took 11 deliveries to score his four runs before being bowled by Scott Styris.
Here on, the Lankans looked like they would fold up quickly, but they were rescued after some sensible batting by debutant L Chandimal (29 off 23) and Jayawardene.
Young Chandimal blossomed in Jayawardene's company as he hit a four and a six during his 23-ball innings before he was brilliantly caught on the boundary line by Ross Taylor off Nathan McCullum in the 16th over.
Three overs later, Jayawardene was holed up at deep mid-wicket by Nathan McCullum off Tim Southee.
Image: Tillakeratne Dilshan is bowled by Jacob Oram
Bond strikes twice in last over
Just when Sri Lanka were looking to go after the bowling, the experienced Shane Bond put paid to any hopes of them reaching the 150-run mark.
The pacer turned out to be the pick of the Kiwi bowlers as he accounted for two Lankan batsmen, giving away 35 runs.
He had both Chamara Kapugedera (11) and Angelo Mathews caught by Nathan McCullum at the long off boundary in a span of three balls as the batsmen went for big shots in the last over.
Sri Lanka finally put up 135 for 6 in their 20 overs.
Image: Shane Bond
Ryder sets the tone
Facing a modest 136 for victory, New Zealand were off to a poor start as they lost Brendon McCullum in the first over of the innings.
McCullum mistimed a short delivery from Angelo Mathews and was safely pouched by Lasith Malinga at midwicket for a duck.
However, Jesse Ryder set the tone of the match, taking the attack to the opposition. He opened up straightaway against Chanaka Welegedara, hitting him for a couple of boundaries in his opening over.
He then followed it up with a massive six off Mathews the very next over.
Ryder was ably supported by Martin Guptill, who looked dangerous in his brief stay at the crease. Guptill, who was dropped by Tillakaratne Dilshan at short cover, opened up against Ajantha Mendis.
He then hit Malinga for a massive six as Kiwis were off to a flier. Both Ryder and Guptill fell in quick succession, when Muttiah Muralitharan castled Ryder and in the next over, Sanath Jayasuriya picked up Guptill for 19 .
Image: Muttiah Muralitharan bowls to Jesse Ryder
Sri Lanka miss chances
Sri Lanka looked in control of the match, picking up wickets at regular intervals. However, things changed in the 17th over when Jacob Oram hit two towering sixes off Mendis.
Sri Lanka were sloppy in the field, giving easy singles and dropping catches. Jayawardene dropped Scott Styris at extra covers, unable to hold on to a sharp catch.
In the 18th over, Sri Lanka had a great chance to run Nathan McCullum out but missed the opportunity as Welegedara failed to collect a throw from midwicket.
Then, again, in the final over, Malinga missed an opportunity to run-out Daniel Vettori, failing with an under-arm throw to the stumps.
Image: Lasith Malinga reacts after missing a chance
Nathan McCullum wins it for Black Caps
Nathan McCullum, who had a good day at the field, with three catches and a wicket, was New Zealand's star.
The all-rounder scored 16 runs off just six balls, which included a six and a boundary in the final over, which eventually won the match for Kiwis.
Image: Nathan McCullum hits a six