In a crucial must-win game, New Zealand delivered a clinical performance, defeating Sri Lanka by five wickets in Bangalore on November 9. The victory puts New Zealand in a strong position for a semifinal berth, with only exceptional performances by Afghanistan or Pakistan capable of changing the scenario. The bowlers, led by Trent Boult (2-37) and Mitchell Santner (2-22), set the stage for the win, and the batsmen completed the chase with ample overs to spare, making it a resounding triumph for the Black Caps.
New Zealand’s chase of 172 never seemed in doubt, particularly as long as they avoided early wickets. Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra not only ensured a steady start but also launched a blistering assault during the initial powerplay. Their aggressive strokeplay not only highlighted the pitch’s batting-friendly nature but also underscored Sri Lanka’s struggles earlier in the match. While Conway initiated the attack, Ravindra quickly joined in, putting pressure on all of Sri Lanka’s bowlers. It was evident that New Zealand was intent on maximizing their net run rate as they pursued the target.
Although Conway and Ravindra eventually departed, Daryl Mitchell stepped up to maintain the tempo with his aggressive style of strokeplay. Sri Lanka did pick up a few wickets in the late stages as New Zealand pushed harder against the bowling, but the outcome was never in question. Glenn Phillips sealed the victory with back-to-back boundaries in the 24th over, capping an emphatic win for New Zealand in all aspects of the game. Sri Lanka’s bowlers cannot be blamed, as the real damage was inflicted in the first innings when their batsmen failed to capitalize on a favorable batting pitch.
Despite not being as flat as some of the renowned IPL pitches at this venue, the pitch in Bangalore still offered room for skillful strokeplay. New Zealand’s bowlers benefited from the overhead conditions, which may have influenced Kane Williamson’s decision to field first, with the unpredictable weather being a significant factor. For Sri Lanka, the key was to withstand the early challenges posed by the new ball, as conditions were expected to improve for batting as the innings progressed. However, Trent Boult, along with his new-ball partner Tim Southee, made crucial breakthroughs, leaving Sri Lanka struggling at 32/3 in just the fifth over.
Kusal Perera’s aggressive half-century briefly threatened a comeback for Sri Lanka, but he too fell shortly after reaching the milestone, leaving Sri Lanka with half their side dismissed within the first ten overs. Mitchell Santner’s economical bowling during the middle overs left little room for a counterattack by Kusal Mendis’s side. New Zealand’s bowling and fielding were sharp, restricting Sri Lanka’s scoring opportunities. It was only an 87-ball partnership of 43 runs for the final wicket between Maheesh Theekshana and Dilshan Madushanka that added some respectability to the total, though it remained quite low. New Zealand, expected to chase down the target with ease, did so convincingly.
Match Summary: Sri Lanka 171 in 46.4 overs (Kusal Perera 51, Maheesh Theekshana 38*; Trent Boult 3-37, Rachin Ravindra 2-21, Mitchell Santner 2-22) lost to New Zealand 172/5 in 23.2 overs (Devon Conway 45, Daryl Mitchell 43, Rachin Ravindra 42) by 5 wickets