After a build-up which seemed as long as the 2007 Cricket World Cup, only more entertaining, we are finally underway in the 2015 version.
Rarely has New Zealand had a start to an innings like that. 77/0 after 10 overs, and an opening stand of 111 at 7 runs per over. From there the stage was set for a really big score.
Things did slow during the middle overs. Guptill fell when you would normally think he was setting to convert a start into a big score, Williamson took a while to get going, and Taylor never got set. When the latter two went in successive balls the score was 193/4, and a bit of national angst set in. Sri Lanka, mainly through their slower bowlers, was right back in it.
No need to worry; Corey Anderson played his most significant ODI innings. Not a world record ODI century today, bit this was an innings that really mattered. He had good support from Elliott and Ronchi too.
Entering the last five overs it looked as if 300 was the target score. But Lakmal’s last over, the 46th of the innings went for 17 runs. It also included a dropped dolly of a catch by Mendis which get replayed many times. 89 runs were scored off the last 7 overs. In the end a total was posted that reflected the flying start. It was New Zealand’s highest score in a World Cup against a test-playing nation.
332 was always going to be a difficult target. Sri Lanka did start well though, and at 124/1 after 22 it was starting to look in the balance.
But if ever the overused cliché of Scoreboard Pressure held true it was here. Even though the Required Run Rate was hovering around the 7.25 level, that is a tricky rate to sustain. And then the flurry of wickets came, the worm veered upwards quickly.
The impressive thing about the New Zealand bowling effort was how Boult and Milne, after being taken to early came back in their second spells.
And then there is Vettori. He has got better with every game since his return; coming back after a long injury break was never going to be easy as Malinga found today. He is a key part of this line-up.
98 runs is a decent margin, and that could come in handy later in the tournament.
Those silly MVP points get even sillier as there are now four of them, now that it is a World Cup, and a match against a test nation.
- Williamson. It was strange when he got out, as he was just getting going. Yet another 50.
- Vettori. In the context of this match figure of 2/34 off 10 overs were extraordinary. Dilshan and Jayawardene weren’t bad scalps either.
- McCullum. His 65 off 49 set up the whole match.
- Anderson. His innings was the difference between 290 and 330, and that was what proved to be crucial.