Dunedin (New Zealand), Jan 23: A record batting blitz by Luke Ronchi and Grant Elliott set New Zealand up for an overwhelming 108-run win over Sri Lanka in their fifth one-day international in Dunedin today.
In a stunning display of power hitting, Ronchi (170 not out) and Elliott (104 not out) bludgeoned an unbeaten 267 to lift New Zealand from 93-5 to 360-5 in their 50 overs in a world record sixth-wicket stand. Sri Lanka had their own century-maker in Tillakaratne Dilshan and looked to be in with a chance as long as he was at the crease.
But when Dilshan fell for 116 it sparked a spectacular collapse in which Sri Lanka lost eight wickets for just 41 runs in eight overs. The end came with more than six overs remaining as, for the second game in a row, Sri Lanka showed little fight in the lower order to let New Zealand go 3-1 up in the series.
In the fourth ODI in Nelson on Tuesday, their last six wickets were whittled out for just 31 runs. Faced with a daunting target of 361 to win in Dunedin, Sri Lanka confidently progressed to 93 before losing their first wicket when stand-in captain Lahiru Thirimanne was removed for 45.
After Kumar Sangakkara went cheaply for nine, Mahela Jayawardene (30) joined Dilshan to lift the momentum as the tourists reached 211 in the 36th over But the game turned when strike bowler Trent Boult was brought back into the attack with immediate success bowling Jayawardene to start the slide.
Four balls later Mitchell McClenaghan claimed the prized wicket of Dilshan and the Sri Lankan fight was over. Dilshan had posted his 20th ODI century and the third in his past five innings in an unflustered display until he mistimed a drive on a slower delivery and was well held by Nathan McCullum at extra cover.
Boult was New Zealand's chief destroyer with four for 44 while McClenaghan, Elliott and Tim Southee took two wickets each.
New Zealand innings report
A world-record partnership by centurions Ronchi and Elliott rescued New Zealand from an early collapse to ensure a commanding 360-5.
Their 267-run stand, smacked in 30 overs at Dunedin's University Oval, is the highest sixth-wicket partnership in ODI cricket and began when New Zealand were in dire straits at 93-5 after 20 overs. The innings ended with Ronchi unbeaten on 170, his maiden ODI century, while Elliott was 104 not out for his second ton.
After being sent into bat on a green-tinged wicket, New Zealand's top order fell rapidly before Elliott and Ronchi turned the mission around. Ronchi, whose lusty hitting carried New Zealand home in the fourth ODI in Nelson on Tuesday, had nine sixes and 14 fours in his innings and faced 99 deliveries.
Elliott, dropped on 47 by stand-in Sri Lanka captain Lahiru Thirimanne, faced 96 balls and hit two sixes and seven fours. Thirimanne, promoted to lead Sri Lanka when Angelo Mathews was rested with a calf strain, won the toss and was immediately rewarded for opting to bowl with Martin Guptill caught behind first ball.
Brendon McCullum gets a reprieve
In the following over, Brendon McCullum was dropped at backward point by Dilshan and New Zealand were having trouble with the ball moving sharply off the seam.
McCullum rebounded from his let-off to partner Kane Williamson in a rapid 50-run stand before his luck ran out when Kulasekara won a leg-before-wicket appeal to remove the New Zealand captain for 25.
Two overs later Williamson was back in the pavilion, caught by Sangakkara off Thisara Perera for 26 and New Zealand were 60-3. Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott had added 20 runs when Sri Lanka struck another double blow with two wickets to Thirimanne in 11 balls.
Taylor popped a catch to Dimuth Karunaratne at mid-wicket to be gone for 20 while Corey Anderson was trapped leg-before for eight. Ronchi then joined Elliott in the middle and rapidly took the initiative away from Sri Lanka, whose most successful bowler was Thirimanne with two for 36 while Kulasekara took two for 71.