New Zealand took a dramatic 1-0 lead in their three-game series with Sri Lanka after a remarkable display of batting from Nathan McCullum capped off a wonderful comeback for the tourists.
The 33-year-old’s 32 from nine balls saw New Zealand reach their target of 198 from a shortened 23 overs to clinch victory in the second ODI—only moments previously all had appeared lost.
The visitors' target had been readjusted to 198 in 23 overs by the Duckworth-Lewis rule after a rain-interrupted second day of action in Hambantota.
After the abandonment of the opening ODI on Sunday, the weather once again threatened to bring a halt to proceedings at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium with Sri Lanka at the crease.
The home side took hold of the game early on through Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara. It was the second ODI in succession that both men impressed with the bat, and after clocking 137 runs as a pair on Sunday, their partnership reached a total of 136 on Tuesday.
The players were then called off when lightning preceded a heavy downpour and they didn’t return until after 9 p.m. local time, more than five hours after they had exited the field.
When they did, the contest became a shortened 23-overs-a-side game. Sri Lanka wrapped up their final two overs to finish with a score of 138/1 before making way for New Zealand.
The tourists, who struggled with the bat in their series loss to Bangladesh at the beginning of the month, were chasing a readjusted target of 198, which on the surface seemed slightly harsh on them.
Tom Latham got the ball rolling for the Kiwis, posting an impressive total of 86 before being caught by Madushanka Senanayake off a ball from Nuwan Kulasekara, who took four wickets.
McCullum entered the fray after 20.6 overs with New Zealand 33 runs short of their total on 165 for six. What happened next was remarkable.
The match-winner hit three fours and three sixes off nine balls to lead New Zealand to a famous victory.
Both sides will now travel to the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium for the third and final ODI with Sri Lanka desperate for a win to tie the series.
Sri Lanka Innings 138 for 1 (23/23 overs)
|F Karunaratne||c J Neesham||b K Mills||4||8||0||0|
|T Dilshan||not out||55||72||9||0|
|K Sangakkara||not out||71||59||9||0|
|Extras||(b 1, lb 2, w 3, nb 1)||8|
New Zealand Innings 203 for 6 (23/23 overs, target 198)
|T Latham||c S Senanayake||b K Kulasekara||86||68||12||1|
|A Devcich||c K Sangakkara||b K Kulasekara||1||4||0||0|
|R Nicol||c K Sangakkara||b K Kulasekara||0||1||0||0|
|G Elliott||st K Sangakkara||b S Senanayake||7||14||1||0|
|C Munro||c H Thirimanne||b S Senanayake||15||12||1||1|
|L Ronchi||c T Dilshan||b K Kulasekara||49||26||7||1|
|J Neesham||not out||5||4||0||0|
|N McCullum||not out||32||9||3||3|
|Extras||(lb 5, w 3)||8|
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