At 93/5 things were not exactly going to plan. Guptill had gone for a golden duck, Taylor had failed again, and the National Angst over these two had started going amber / red like one of those forest fire risk barometers.
Added to that McCullum and, remarkably, Williamson failed to go on after a start, and New Zealand was in big trouble. At the crease was Elliott, who four days ago was widely considered as an errant selection for the World Cup squad.
As an aside, McCullum has been given out LBW in a game with DRS available 14 times since 2012. He has reviewed that decision 11 times, and been successful on three of those occasions.
What then followed was extraordinary. A record smashing partnership that in any other era would be the highlight of the season. The Ronchi onslaught was quite something; and he exposed the full range of shots. 170* off 99 balls is right up there in New Zealand ODI history.
At the other end Elliott showed why he is in the squad; an intelligent, measured, supporting knock. And 104* off 99 balls stands on its own pretty well too. All round; this was some muscle flexing, and the statement that New Zealand can score runs from a range of places in the order.
The Sri Lankan chase was the inverse of New Zealand’s innings. Their strengh is their top order and once again it was led by Dilshan today. At 211/2 they were in with a chance, but if you are going to chase 360 you need a few things going for you.
Sri Lanka would lose their last 8 wickets for 41 runs; that is what scoreboard pressure can do
Ronchi’s 170* is the highest score by a number 7 in an ODI breaking the previous record of 139 by MS Dhoni.
His strike rate during his innings of 170 off 99 balls, the second highest for a 150-plus score. Only Shane Watson has a better strike for a 150-plus score, when he scored 185* off 96 balls, at a strike rate of 193 against Bangladesh in 2011. But that was Watson, and that was Bangladesh, so that does not count.
The sixth wicket partnership of 267* is the highest for that wicket in all ODI history. Next highest is 218, and that was in some silly Asia XI v Africa XI match.
It is the seventh biggest for any wicket in ODI history.
It was the highest partnership for the third wicket or below against a top eight country.
The partnership lasted 30 overs.
It is only the fourth time in New Zealand ODI history that two players scored a century in the same match. One of those was against Ireland, one against Zimbabwe, and the other one featured the then fastest ODI century of all time.
It was only the third time in all ODIs that two batsmen coming in at number 5 and below scored centuries.
Those annoying MVP Points:
3. Luke Ronchi. What more can you say?
2. Grant Elliott. It is not often that a faster than run-a-ball century and a couple of wickets does not win the Man of the Match award.
1. Trent Boult. What was impressive about his bowling is that he got the key wickets (and Jayawardene was the pivotal moment) with the older ball; which has been considered his weak point. He moved up the pecking order today.
Ronchi joins Williamson at the top of the table.