BENGALURU: New Zealand’s all-round brilliance propelled them to crush Sri Lanka by five wickets and bolstered their chances to reach the ICC World Cup 2023 semi-finals.
Chasing a modest 172, New Zealand achieved the total for the loss of five wickets and 160 balls to spare and further improved their net run-rate.
They strengthened their fourth position in the standings with 10 points in nine matches and a decent net run rate of 0.74.
Former champions Pakistan, who are in fifth position with eight points in as many matches will now need to win their last ICC World Cup 2023 fixture against England with a massive margin of as low as 287 runs to go past New Zealand in the standings.
If they bowl first then they would have to beat England with 284 balls to spare, which means they will have to chase down the target in just 2.4 overs.
But it was not the easiest of run chases for New Zealand as they lost five wickets to complete the pursuit despite a commanding start.
Glenn Phillips (17) and Tom Latham (2) then made sure there were no more hiccups in the run chase and steered New Zealand over the line in the 24th over.
Opening batter Devon Conway remained the top-scorer for New Zealand with a 42-ball 45. He was followed by his opening partner Rachin Ravindra, who scored 43 and Daryl Mitchell (43).
Angelo Mathews led the bowling attack for Sri Lanka with 2/29 in his four overs, while Maheesh Theekshana and Dushmantha Chameera made one scalp each.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson opted to bowl first and his bowlers justified the decision reducing Sri Lanka to 70-5 inside the first ten overs.
Sri Lanka’s opening batter Kusal Perera was the only batter who posed a threat to New Zealand’s brilliant bowling, scoring a majority of the team’s total.
He scored a blistering 51 run-knock from 28 balls, with the help of nine boundaries and two sixes.
Sri Lanka further slipped to 105-7, bringing Maheesh Theekshana to the ground with New Zealand eyeing to wrap things up quickly.
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Theekshana stood on the other end, as he lost two partners before Dilshan Madushanka joined him and together they knitted a cautious 43-run partnership for the last wicket from 87 balls.
Theekshana played his career-best knock in ODI cricket, scoring an unbeaten 38 runs from 91 balls with the help of three boundaries, while his partner Madushanka scored 19, his highest individual in any form of cricket.
Rachin Ravindra finally ended the frustrating partnership, as Madushanka got caught behind, thus ending the Sri Lankan innings at 171.
Trent Boult topped the wickets chart for New Zealand, while Ravindra, Lockie Ferguson and Mitchell Santner picked two wickets each.