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McCullum's heroics gives NZ thrilling win

Published:Saturday | May 1, 2010 | 12:00 AM
New Zealand's Nathan McCullum celebrates after playing the boundary shot off Sri Lanka's bowler Lasith Malinga (unseen), to win their Twenty20 Cricket World Cup match in Georgetown, Guyana, yesterday. New Zealand won by two wickets with one ball remaining. - AP

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP): All-rounder Nathan McCullum hit the penultimate ball for six yesterday to spur New Zealand to a thrilling two-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the opening match of the ICC World Cup Twenty20 championship.

McCullum finished with 16 off six balls as New Zealand got home with one ball to spare and finished with 139-8, after needing 10 to win off the final over from pace bowler Lasith Malinga.

Chasing 136 for victory, the Kiwis lost Brendon McCullum, Nathan's younger brother, without a run on the board. But left-hander Jesse Ryder struck three fours and a six in his 42 off 27 balls to reshape his team's pursuit.

Ryder shared a second-wicket stand of 62 with Martin Guptill, who chipped in with 19. But both fell within four runs to tilt the balance to Sri Lanka.

Veteran off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan claimed Ryder and Ross Taylor on his way to 2-25.

Jacob Oram blasted two sixes in a crucial 15 off six deliveries as New Zealand surged before Nathan McCullum supplied the late heroics.

Earlier, Mahela Jayawardene smashed eight fours and two sixes in a career-best 81 off 51 balls to anchor the Sri Lankans.

Debutante Dinesh Chandimal supplied a crucial 29 off 23 deliveries.

Nathan McCullum, who claimed 1-17 off three overs of off-spin and also took three catches, earned the Man of the Match award.