Kiwis beat Sri Lanka by two wickets in thrilling opener

PROVIDENCE, Guyana: A glorious six by Nathan McCullum handed over New Zealand a thrilling two-wicket victory with just one ball to spare in the opening match of the third ICC World Twenty20 here on Friday.

Batting at number nine McCullum hit the six off Lasith Malinga’s fifth ball of the last over of the match as New Zealand needed 10 runs in the final over.

Chasing a modest target of 136 runs, New Zealand made 139 for eight in 19.5 overs before losing three wickets in the last two overs.

Opener Jesse Ryder was the top-scorer with 42 from 27 balls. He hit two sixes and three fours as no other batsman could cross 20 in the innings.

Muttiah Muralitharan claimed two wickets for 25.

Earlier, Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara won the toss and elected to bat after which his team could make 135 for the loss of six wickets in the allotted 20 overs, thanks to Mahela Jayawardene’s brilliant 81 from 51 balls.

He smashed two towering sixes and eight boundaries and made 59 runs together with Dinesh Chandimal (29) for the third wicket partnership.

No other batsman could make any significant contribution while New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori tried six bowlers, all among wickets except himself.

Fast bowler Shane Bond claimed two for 35 as others took one wicket each.

Veteran Sri Lanka batsman Sanath Jayasuriya came down the order rather than play as an opener. He came at eighth number when only one ball was left.