New Zealand coast to opening Cricket World Cup win over Sri Lanka

first_imgGreeted by a near-glowing emerald green pitch and balmy Cardiff conditions, New Zealand opened their Cricket World Cup campaign as if they were whipping out the flip-flops and savouring a casual summer stroll.Their 10-wicket victory over slumping Sri Lanka, secured with 203 balls to spare, really was that comfortable. Much tougher assignments await but New Zealand could not have wished for a better start. Winning the toss and bowling first certainly enhanced this mismatch but they still had to exploit the favourable conditions. By doing just that, once again they proved when the ball swings or seams this unit poses major problems.Led by the swift redemption of Matt Henry and a template they hope to replicate throughout this tournament, New Zealand’s attack felt right at home on a surface that mirrored the Kermit green often seen on the first morning of a Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.On the evidence of this effort Sri Lanka could well contest the wooden spoon. Regardless, this was always a must-win match for New Zealand’s hopes of at least reaching the semi-finals. With one dominant win in the books and Bangladesh and Afghanistan to follow in the first week, the chance is there for early successes before the headline fixtures arrive.There were no signs of first-game jitters nor disruption despite New Zealand juggling late changes after a calf complaint ruled out the experienced seamer Tim Southee and a hamstring problem with Henry Nicholls forced a reshuffle at the top of the order. Read more Since you’re here… Cricket World Cup 2019 Cricket World Cup 2019: final group stage standings The final aspect New Zealand take from this whitewash is a positive run-rate. With semi-final places set to be hotly contested, such an early boost cannot be scoffed at.“It’s always nice to have a healthy run-rate at the start of a tournament,” Guptill said. “Once we had them seven or eight down we wanted to try to knock them over and the runs off as quick as possible. “The beauty about our guys is they can exploit those conditions quite regularly. We put the ball in the right areas enough to get the rewards up front.“If we bowl first in the next few games hopefully we can continue to make it difficult for the guys to score and if we can come out and play with the freedom with the bat like we did today we’re going to have a pretty successful tournament.” Sri Lanka’s captain, Dimuth Karunaratne, did his best to restore respectability as he became the 12th batsman in ODIs to carry his bat with all his teammates dismissed – the second in World Cups after West Indies’ Ridley Jacobs against Australia in 1999. But his lone half-century barely saved face. The strong contingent of Sri Lanka supporters made their feelings clear with a chorus of boos at the end of the match.By the time Martin Guptill and Colin Munro, promoted to fill Nicholls’s place, strode out to reply in the early afternoon sun, the wicket had flattened and they used their feet to counter any lingering movement.With the pressure off, Guptill and Munro played with freedom Sri Lanka never enjoyed to notch their highest opening partnership. Guptill’s unbeaten 73 from 51 balls should settle nerves and after a lean trot Munro’s first half-century in 18 ODI innings will ease pressure on his shoulders. Ben Stokes’s ‘catch of the century’ and The Hundred names – The Spin podcast Listen Topics In what shaped as a tight selection call before Southee’s withdrawal, Henry grabbed the new ball and seized his chance with three for 29 that ripped through Sri Lanka’s meek resistance with a man-of-the-match spell. It was a far cry from Henry’s performance in New Zealand’s final warm-up match when West Indies thumped him to all parts of Bristol on the way to figures of two for 107 from nine overs.While Trent Boult, the second-ranked bowler at this tournament, struggled for consistency, Henry found quality support from Lockie Ferguson, New Zealand’s answer to Jofra Archer, who finished with three for 22. Henry, Ferguson and Colin de Grandhomme, with his nibble away, all struck in their first overs to have Sri Lanka on the ropes. Such was the horror show at one stage they lost five wickets for 14 runs. From there they never recovered. … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. 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