At Seddon Park, Hamilton: Black Caps 159-4 (Will Young 86 not out, Henry Nicholls 44 not out; Lahiru Kumara 2-39) defeated Sri Lanka 157 all (Pathum Nissanka 57; Matt Henry 3-14, Daryl Mitchell 3-32, Henry Shipley 3-32) by six wickets.
Will Young’s best one-day international knockout saved the Black Caps for a series win after a thrilling chase to beat Sri Lanka in Hamilton on Friday.
After two centuries against the Netherlands, No. 3 Young passed 50 for a third time in his 10th ODI in a six-wicket win to win the three-match series 2–0.
Matt Henry played with the ball, 3-14 from 10 overs, as Sri Lanka topped just 157 at bats, while Young’s stylish, composed innings of 86 off 113 balls stabilized the Black Caps after a shaky chase.
Pressure grew under the spotlight of Seddon Park as the Black Caps lost most of their top order cheaply.
Sri Lanka was equally afloat knowing they had to beat the hosts.
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But the lower target (158) meant that the unbeaten Young and Henry Nicholls (44 from 52) could take their time and neither took much risk, sharing 101 runs for the fifth wicket to seal the win at 17.1 about about.
When Lahiru Kumara removed openers Chad Bowes (1) and Tom Blundell (4) in the second over of the New Zealand chase, the hosts were 6-2.
That was soon 21-3 after Daryl Mitchell (8) waved to a wide throw from Kasun Rajitha that was aimed at the happy slips.
Reliable Tom Latham was also gone for 6 as opposing captain Dasun Shanaka forced him to cut another wide into his stumps, with the score at 59-4 and tensions high.
Sri Lanka had a sniff and would have been well in the match at 72-5 as Nicholls got lbw at 1 off Shanaka but he judged successfully and the ball went down.
In the end, the tourists paid the price for a succession of soft wickets as the Black Caps chased just 158 in 50 overs.
Pathum Nissanka was Sri Lanka’s standout with the bat, hitting 57 off 64 balls, but even his exit was soft after being unnecessarily bowled out by Shanaka after a mix-up.
Sri Lanka opted to bat after winning the coin toss following their meager total of 76 all out in the first ODI they lost in Auckland, replying to New Zealand’s 274.
The nervous tourists started slowly, losing their first three wickets to chances caught in the slips, and limping to 157 all out from 41.3 overs.
Paceman Henry Shipley ended the innings emphatically when he bowled Rajith.
Henry claimed the first two wickets and Shipley accepted veteran Angelo Mathews’ esteemed dismissal for a duck as they cut Sri Lanka to 18-3.
Their opening spell worried the batters, with pace, bounce and movement keeping the scoring percentage low.
Nissanka rode his luck, surviving two appeals – a lead over wicketkeeper Latham who missed the bat and a lbw dismissal which was successfully overturned on review – and reaching his 50 off 58 balls in the 23rd over.
However, he was driven off by his captain the next time around.
That left Sri Lanka 100-6 after Mitchell also claimed his first wickets from catches in depth, removing Charith Asalanka (9) and Dhananjaya De Silva (13).
They maintained a scoring percentage of almost four left, but the wickets fell too regularly.
Shipley had Shanaka, who was dropped at 1, for 31 from 36 balls after cutting a shot to the sky that Henry was under, then Mitchell grabbed his third as Wanindu Hasaranga passed through to Latham.
The big moment
Nissanka’s running out epitomized Sri Lanka’s batting.
Nicholls was quick to strike before Ish Sodhi blasted the bail off, but the fault was on Shanaka, who was at the end of the non-striker and called through Nissanaka for a single he didn’t want.
Nissanaka barely bothered to slide in his bat and quickly walked away, without looking at his skipper.
He flew after trying his luck and those extra runs he was ready for could have put more pressure on the Black Caps in their nervous pursuit.
Best with the bat
Young’s unbeaten 86 was more important than his two-ton last year against the Netherlands in Mount Maunganui and Hamilton.
The Dutch have weaker opposition than Sri Lanka and Young walked off as the hosts faltered.
His straight drive to pass 50 off 71 balls was glorious.
The best with the ball
Three New Zealand seamen took three wickets each, but Henry was a league ahead. His figures of 3-14 from 10 overs are excellent in any format.
Henry knocked out top-class hitters Nuwanidu Fernando (2) and Kusal Mendis (0) in his accurate, probing first spell and ended Chamika Karunaratne’s (24) late resistance with another wicket behind the stumps, caught by Latham.
The big picture
The Black Caps have won eight of their ten ODI series wins since the last World Cup in England in 2019.
Sri Lanka failed to improve their chances of automatically qualifying for this year’s World Cup with their latest defeat. They face a tough road to India through an exciting qualifying tournament.
The Twenty20 series of three matches between the teams starts on Sunday in Auckland.