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Cricket news - Pacers set up New Zealand's winning start

A clinical bowling performance by the New Zealand pacers was complemented by an unbeaten century stand from the openers

New Zealand bulldozed past Sri Lanka in their opening encounter, as they sealed a 10-wicket win in the third match of the ICC Cricket World Cup in Cardiff on Saturday (June 1).

The New Zealand pacers dismantled Sri Lanka with disdain as the Asian side folded for 136. Dimuth Karunaratne scored a fighting half-century - and became the second batsman after Ridley Jacobs to carry his bat in a World Cup game - while Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson wreaked havoc. New Zealand's openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro aced the chase, as both scored half-centuries to cross the line in the 17th over.

Since the last World Cup, Sri Lanka have lost the most number of wickets in the powerplay and the trend continued. Ahead of the tournament, the brief to the openers would have been simple - give the team a steady start and allow the middle-order to capitalise. Early wickets would have been a strict no-go. However, the three wickets lost on the day inside the first ten overs had a telling impact as Sri Lanka failed to recover from the early blows.

Henry picked up the first three - Lahiru Thirimanne (4), Kusal Perera (29) and Kusal Mendis - as Sri Lanka were left wobbling at 46 for 3. Kusal Perera and Karunaratne had scored 42 for the second wicket at a healthy rate before a collapse sealed their fate. While Kusal Perera was caught at mid-on trying to hit Henry out of the park, a tentative poke from Mendis landed with Martin Guptill at second slip.

Dhananjaya de Silva was trapped in front by Ferguson while Angelo Mathews was caught behind off an inside edge off the bowling of Colin de Grandhomme. Sri Lanka's most dependable batsmen had both been dismissed even before the could open their account as New Zealand continued to make the most of the early help from the track.

At 60 for 6, Karunaratne had seen his batsmen fail to show patience and the temperament on a slightly testing track. The New Zealand pacers were ruthless and consistent but were aided by the shoddy display from the Sri Lankan batsmen.

Karunaratne and Thisara Perera managed to add 52 for the seventh wicket before the latter's greed got the better of him. Thisara fell for 27 off 23 trying to attack Mitchell Santner but not succeeding. There wasn't much resistance from the tail as Trent Boult and Jimmy Neesham too got amongst the wickets.

Once the bowlers set up the platform for a small chase, Guptill and Munro eased the team past the line inside 17 overs. Both batsmen scored briskly as the conditions eased out just a touch, and struck half-centuries to build some confidence going ahead in the tournament. While the Sri Lankan pacers found more swing in comparison to their opponents, their accuracy wasn't up to the mark to trouble the New Zealand openers. Guptill and Munro stitched together their highest opening stand - going past 88 they had made against Pakistan in Hamilton in 2018.

Brief scores: Sri Lanka 136 in 29.2 overs (Dimuth Karunaratne 52*; Lockie Ferguson 3-22) lost to New Zealand 137/0 in 16.1 overs (Martin Guptill 73*, Colin Munro 58*) by 10 wickets.

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