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September 10, 2009

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Sri Lanka storms to easy win

THILAN Samaraweera's defiant century backed up by three wickets in a single over from Lasith Malinga gave Sri Lanka a crushing 97-run win over New Zealand on Tuesday in the opening match of the tri-nation series which also features India.

Batting first, Sri Lanka recovered from a disastrous start to reach 216-7 and later bowled the Black Caps out for just 119 in the 37th over.

Samaraweera made 104 and shared a crucial 127-run partnership with Anjelo Mathews (51) to give Sri Lanka's bowlers a competitive total to defend.

Samaraweera, who faced 124 balls and hit 10 boundaries, has long been regarded as a test specialist and had not been considered for limited-over matches for almost four years.

"I had a lot of pressure because a lot of people were saying that I can't play one-day cricket," Samaraweera told reporters after being named player of the match.

"I thought my ODI career was over but I believed I can do it because we struggled in the middle order and I had a dream run in test cricket over the past 18 months."

Like Sri Lanka, New Zealand made a poor start with the bat, losing its first three wickets for just seven runs.

Left-arm seamer Thilan Thushara made the initial breakthrough, trapping Jesse Ryder leg-before.

Nuwan Kulasekera had Martin Guptill caught behind by captain Kumar Sangakkara and later also trapped Ross Taylor LBW.

A brief 30-run stand between Brendon McCullum and Grant Elliot gave the tourists some hope but Malinga struck three times in the 19th over to end any chance of a New Zealand comeback.

Last ball

Malinga bowled McCullum with a yorker and three balls later had Jacob Oram caught by Sangakkara. He then bowled Nathan McCullum with the last ball of the over.

Elliot top-scored for New Zealand with 41 runs. Malinga was the pick of the bowlers, finishing with figures of 4-28.

Earlier, Sangakkara won the toss and elected to bat first, but his openers failed and the middle order crumbled under pressure as the hosts lost five wickets for 69 runs in Colombo.

Samaraweera then came to the crease with his team struggling on 22-3 and, despite losing two batting partners early, he settled down with Mathews for a record stand for the sixth wicket between the two sides.

Mathews brought up his second limited-overs fifty off 60 balls including four boundaries.


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