Lankans top Kiwis in third ODI
NELSON, New Zealand (AP):
Sri Lanka borrowed parts of New Zealand's successful formula to win the third one-day cricket international by eight wickets yesterday, and kept alive the five-match series which home team leads 2-1.
Sri Lanka restricted New Zealand to 276-8, in which Williamson's 59 was the highest score, and a blazing 65 from 45 balls by opener Danushka Gunathilaka ignited a run chase which Tillakaratne Dilshan strengthened with a masterly innings of 91.
Dilshan put on 111 for the second wicket with Lahiru Thirimanne before his innings ended when he was run out with Sri Lanka 202-2.
Thirimanne made an unbeaten 87 in a 68-run partnership with Dinesh Chandimal (27 not out) which closed out the win with 20 balls remaining.
"A very satisfying and much-needed victory for us," Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said. "We gave ourselves a chance to stay alive in the series, and going forward to the fourth ODI we still have a chance to square the series.
"I thought the bowlers were brilliant up front, given the task on a good track they kept them to a very chaseable target. And I thought all the batters batted brilliantly after the humiliating and embarrassing first couple of games."
Small changes yesterday made a big difference to the dynamics of the series, and Sri Lanka were just as commanding in winning the third match as New Zealand had in winning the first two.
The New Zealand bowlers couldn't contain Sri Lanka as they had done in the first two matches. Pacemen Tim Southee and Adam Milne returned after being rested earlier in the series and showed signs of rustiness, becoming cannon fodder for Gunathilaka and Dilshan, giving up 44 and 50 runs respectively from six over spells.
Williamson also returned to the New Zealand line-up after missing the first two matches of the series with a knee injury and was immediately installed as captain when Brendon McCullum was forced to withdraw with an injured back.
Williamson did something McCullum couldn't in winning the toss, but that also worked against his team. Compelled to bowl first and chastened by the words of captain Angelo Mathews who described their previous performances in the series as "embarrassing and pathetic" Sri Lanka bowled well and fielded with enthusiasm to restrict New Zealand.
In the first match at Christchurch, Sri Lanka managed only 188 in ideal batting conditions and saw New Zealand surpass that total in 21 overs; in the second match Sri Lanka made only 117 and New Zealand reached that target in 8.2 overs.