Follow live updates of the second Twenty20 between the Black Caps and Sri Lanka.
They were put under pressure by Sri Lanka’s batsmen, then needed a mighty fightback to overcome their bowlers. The rain, of course, had to make an appearance as well. But, after all of that, the Black Caps’ Twenty20 World Cup build-up is underway – with a win.
It was a win that looked extremely unlikely at 39-3 in the eighth over, with a chase of 175 on the docket, but a superb 79-run partnership off just 38 balls between Ross Taylor and Colin de Grandhomme put them in with a chance, and Daryl Mitchell and Mitchell Santner saw them home, claiming a five-wicket win with three balls to spare.
In some ways, the topsy-turvy encounter was a fitting start to a series that has an experimental feel to it, in a format that can be hellaciously random at the best of times. The Black Caps had rested Kane Williamson and Trent Boult, and they will be joined in heading home by Lockie Ferguson, who fractured his thumb on the eve of the game.
Ferguson’s contributions were missed as Sri Lanka racked up an excellent score, led by Kusal Mendis, who produced the best Twenty20 innings of his career with 79 from 53 balls. He took a liking to Seth Rance early and showed little problems scoring off de Grandhomme, but the Black Caps managed to peg back the hosts in the middle overs.
Santner was his usual superb self in the shortest format, taking 1-22 from four overs as he tied down the Sri Lankan middle order, and should have had Mendis’ wicket on 55 but for a poor attempt at a catch from Ish Sodhi.
Sodhi was a bit more wayward than usual but still bowled decently for figures of 3-0-23-0, while Southee was excellent throughout the innings, living up to his status as captain by claiming 2-20.