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Cricket news - Colin de Grandhomme, Tom Bruce script New Zealand's series victory

Colin de Grandhomme top-scored with a 46-ball 59 in the chase

New Zealand's well thought out approach to chase, starting with powerplay blitz, and powered by a 109-run partnership between Colin de Grandhomme and Tom Bruce guided them to a series win in Pallekele on Tuesday. Sri Lanka won the toss and decided to post a score once again. They amassed what could've been a winning total (161/9) on a slower surface than from two days ago, but that was not to be. Despite the frenzy of the final over, New Zealand crossed the line with four wickets and two balls to spare.

What did New Zealand pull off in the Powerplay?

An excellent approach, completely different to how they went after Sri Lanka's 179 two days ago. This time around, Sri Lanka came armed with an extra spinner - a tactical change bringing in leggie Lakshan Sandakan in place of pacer Kasun Rajitha. New Zealand thus saw it fit to pummel everything in sight for as long as the fielding restrictions were in place and accepted the risk of losing wickets that came with it. And they did this in the absence of Martin Guptill, who appeared to have cramped up while fielding and had to rush indoors.

Tim Seifert and Colin Munro ripped into Lasith Malinga in the first over, picking up 14 runs off it. Munro took on Akila Dananjaya in the second over, and fell while attempting to repeat the feat. The wicket hardly pushed Sri Lanka away from their plan, as Seifert picked up two boundaries of Shehan Jayasuriya in the third over. New Zealand promoted Scott Kuggeleijn to No. 3 as a hitter to carry forward the mission set in motion, and he started rather brightly. He smashed a Dananjaya delivery for a six over wide long on, but was trapped leg before off the very next ball, that kept low. Seifert fell two balls later to give Sri Lanka an upperhand in the proceedings, but the breakthrough brought Colin de Grandhomme and Tom Bruce together in the middle.

Considering de Grandhomme's impact in the chase in the first game, Malinga went for broke and brought in Dananjaya for his third over inside the powerplay. It didn't yield the desired result though, as New Zealand finished with 59 for 3 at the end of six overs to get a head start in a chase that required them to score at a little more than eight-an-over.

How did de Grandhomme and Bruce build the stand?

Very smartly.

They played risk-free cricket for the next five overs while Malinga switched between the medium pace of Isuru Udana and his spinners in search of another breakthrough. The duo just knocked the ball into empty spaces created by the spread out field, picking up 20 off the 25 runs that came in these five overs via singles.

There had to be a release over in the offing?

Precisely... the 11th off Wanidu Hasaranga.

Bruce went for an across-the-line swipe and de Grandhomme cleared his front leg to send one into the night skies in the Sri Lankan capital to pinch 16 runs off the over and turn the pressure back on the hosts.

What was Malinga's next move?

To bring back two of his best bowlers - himself and Dananjaya.

It didn't earn him dividends though, as both de Grandhomme and Bruce were far too deep into their innings to commit harakiri. They coolly picked five singles and earned one via a wide to see off the over. They did offer a couple of chances in Dananjaya's over but Sri Lanka didn't grab it. First ball, there was a run out chance but the throw from mid-wicket was poor and allowed them to steal a couple of runs.

The clearer of the two opportunities came when de Grandhomme mistimed his slog sweep, but substitute fielder Lahiru Madhusanka slipped and fell while running to get under the skier. The asking rate was brought down to seven-an-over and de Grandhomme soon got to a commendable half-century.

How did the game go till the last over then?

Lakshan Sandakan and Isuru Udana bowled two excellent overs - 16th and 17th - giving away just three runs each. Malinga bowled a tidy final over too to bring the equation to 17 off the last 12 balls. The cascading effect of this mini-lull was the wicket of de Grandhomme in the penultimate over, holing out to deep extra cover for a 46-ball 59. Bruce kept his nerve - at least until the final over - and got to his fifty and brought the equation down to seven off the last six balls.

What was the final over frenzy all about?

Malinga had grossly miscalculated, which left the hosts in a situation where Isuru Udana wouldn't bowl out his entire quota of overs. It also meant Wanidu Hasaranga had to take on the arduous task of bowling the last six balls.

It began rather unfortunately for New Zealand, as Darly Mitchell hit the ball straight back to the bowler, who turned around and threw at the stumps to catch Bruce short of his crease. The pressure built on Mitchell and it showed in his muddled decision making next ball. He went for a big heave next ball but didn't connect, and ended up giving Sri Lanka a sniff from an unlikely situation.

Mitchell Santner came out and went for a similar slog sweep, which fetched New Zealand six runs, but not before a lot of drama. Shehan Jayasuriya and Kusal Mendis were running along the boundary line in an attempt to catch the ball, but ended up colliding into each other.

Jayasuriya who managed to get his hands onto the ball was knocked down by the collision and couldn't release the ball from his hand before his leg touched the boundary skirting. The two players needed medical attention, with Mendis even taken off to the dugout. After consultation with the umpire upstairs, the onfield umpires adjudged it a six, putting New Zealand just a run away from victory. Santner went for glory next ball and connect to get a four off it to seal the fixture.

Did Sri Lanka get anything right apart from the toss?

An Avishka Fernando-Niroshan Dickwella partnership and some death overs surge.

Kusal Mendis started off from where he left in the previous fixture, but Seth Rance - who conceded 58 runs in fours overs two days ago - saw the opener's back with a slower one in the fifth over. It was the result of the pressure built through the four balls before the wicket delivery in which Sri Lanka could manage just a single run. Kusal Perera perished right after the powerplay while trying to accelerate following Sri Lanka's insipid display in the first six overs (38 for 1).

The two early wickets brought the young Avishka Fernando and Niroshan Dickwella together at a scene that required major repair work. They dragged Sri Lanka out of the lull that stretched to three overs and smashed 61 off the next six. They were particularly good against Mitchell Santner, whose variation in pace on the slow pitch was hard to combat.

The pair though pulled it off and the left-arm spinner had to finish wicketless for 34 runs. They were slightly more measured against the leg spin of Ish Sodhi, but forced Southee to bring himself back on by the 14th over. The Kiwi captain accepted the challenge and broke the partnership with an expertly-disguised slower one. Santner may not have picked a wicket, but shared this dismissal with his captain with a superb diving catch at extra cover to dismiss Fernando.

Dasun Shanaka, the next man in, fell for a first ball duck off Scott Kuggeleijn - smartly brought back by his skipper at the fall of a wicket - and took back the only review with him against a plumb LBW shout. Rance then got rid of Dickwella to push Sri Lanka off course, but another late-order surge - similar to the one they managed in the first game - drove them to 161/9 - 45 of which came in the last 30 balls. In the end though, that proved to be insufficient.

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 161/9 in 20 overs (Niroshan Dickwella 39, Avishka Fernando 37; Seth Rance 3-33, Tim Southee 2-18) lost to New Zealand 165/6 in 19.4 overs (Colin de Grandhomme 59, Tom Bruce 53; Akila Dananjaya 3-36) by 4 wickets.

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