AFP – Matt Henry led the New Zealand charge with three wickets to help dismiss Sri Lanka for just 136 in their opening match of the World Cup in Cardiff on Saturday.
Henry returned figures of 3-29 in his seven overs of pace and swing to justify skipper Kane Williamson’s decision to bowl first as New Zealand ran through the Sri Lanka line-up in 29.2 overs.
Lockie Ferguson also claimed three wickets in the absence of senior paceman Tim Southee, who missed the game due to a calf injury.
Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne was the lone batsman to impress amid the carnage with his unbeaten 52.
His 52-run stand with Thisara Perera, who made 27 off 23 balls, was all that stood between Sri Lanka and complete humiliation.
Henry’s early strikes, including two in succesive deliveries, pushed Sri Lanka on the back foot on 53 for four in just the 12th over.
He struck with the second delivery of the game to send Lahiru Thirimanne trudging back to the pavilion after the left-handed opener had hit a boundary from the first ball.
Thirimanne was initially ruled not out by the on-field umpire, but the Kiwis successfully reviewed the lbw call in their favour after replays suggested the ball pitched on line and would have hit the batsman’s leg stump.
The left-handed Karunaratne, who has returned to the one-day side after a gap of four years, then put on 42 runs for the second wicket with Kusal Perera.
But Williamson kept Henry on for the bowler’s fifth over and the decision paid off as he got Perera for 29 and Kusal Mendis without scoring.
Dhananjaya de Silva played the hat-trick ball with a glorious off drive, but soon fell to the pace of Ferguson after being trapped lbw.
The rest of the batting showed little promise with three scores of nought in the innings, including former captain Angelo Mathews.
Karunaratne fought on to register his third ODI fifty in 81 balls before he ran out of partners after Lasith Malinga was bowled by Ferguson for one.
Pacemen Colin de Grandhomme, James Neesham, Trent Boult and Mitchell Santner, the team’s only spinner, claimed a wicket each.
The Black Caps, who finished runners-up in the 2015 World Cup, require 137 runs to beat the 1996 champions.