23 January 2015
Ronchi, Elliott give New Zealand 3-1 lead
Record 267-run stand for sixth wicket helps home side win by 108 runs as Dilshan ton goes in vain
Grant Elliott and Luke Ronchi shared a record sixth-wicket stand of an unbeaten 267-run stand.
Ronchi and Elliott came into bat with New Zealand in doldrums at 93 for 5. Over the course of the next two hours, the duo shared a blistering world record sixth-wicket stand of 267 as New Zealand bludgeoned its way to 360 for 5.
Sri Lanka's openers put on 93 before Elliott sent back Lahiru Thirimanne. But that did not prevent Tillakaratne Dilshan from playing freely as he made a valiant 106-ball 116 courtesy 17 boundaries and a six. But his dismissal saw Sri Lanka lose eight wickets in as many overs for 41 runs. The end came with more than six overs left with the score on 252.
Sri Lanka’s hopes of chasing the target down after a strong opening foundation hinged on its senior batsmen. But Thirimanne’s dismissal was followed by the quick strike of Sangakkara (9). Mahela Jayawardena then added 70 for the third wicket.
The game turned dramatically in the 36th over when Trent Boult, who was brought back into the attack, sent back Jayawardena. Four balls later, Mitchell McClenaghan claimed the prized wicket of Dilshan, and Sri Lanka's fight started to flag.
Dilshan had posted his 20th ODI century and the third in his past five innings in what was an unflustered display until he mistimed a drive on a slower delivery and it was well held by Nathan McCullum at extra cover. Boult was New Zealand's wrecker-in-chief, taking 4 for 44 off his 10 overs, while McClenaghan, Elliott and Tim Southee took two wickets apiece.
Thirimanne, taking over the captaincy from Angelo Mathews who sat out the game with a calf strain, had earlier won the toss and asked New Zealand to bat. On a green-tinged seaming wicket, there was immediate reward for Sri Lanka as Martin Guptill was dismissed in the first ball. The rest of the New Zealand top order followed quickly as it lost half the side by the 20-over mark.
Ronchi joined Elliott at the crease, and they mounted a stirring fightback. Ronchi blasted 170 from 99 balls, smacking nine sixes and 14 fours while clearing a few milestones along the way.
In addition to the world-record partnership with Elliott, Ronchi’s unbeaten 170 was his maiden ODI century and the highest ODI score by a number seven batsman. Elliott, who took 96 balls for his 104 – his second century – showed more restraint at the crease, and like Ronchi, he offered few chances.
That passage of play made the difference in the end.
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