New Zealand wrapped up the Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka with a game to spare courtesy of a four-wicket win in Pallekele on Tuesday.
Having chased down a target of 175 to win a rain-hit opener 48 hours earlier, the Black Caps rallied from 38-3 to overhaul the home side’s total of 161-9 with two balls to spare after an unexpectedly dramatic finish to proceedings.
Colin de Grandhomme and Tom Bruce – drafted into the XI to replace the injured Ross Taylor – shared a crucial fourth-wicket stand worth 109 as both posted half-centuries.
Neither were able to see the job through to the end – De Grandhomme was caught in the deep on 59, while Bruce was run out for 53 at the start of an eventful final over that started with the tourists losing two wickets in as many balls.
It appeared to be three in three when Mitchell Santner’s slog sweep to wide long on was held by Shehan Jayasuriya, only for the fielder to collide with onrushing team-mate Kusal Mendis and make contact with the rope as he fell to the ground.
Both Sri Lanka players required treatment by the boundary during a lengthy delay that concluded with a six being signalled, drawing New Zealand level on the scoreboard. Santner duly secured victory from the next delivery, smacking it to the same area for four.
— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) September 3, 2019
The Kiwis had done well in the first half of the contest to restrict their opponents, with Sri Lanka seeing several of their top order fail to capitalise on promising starts.
Opener Mendis made 26 from 24 deliveries at the top of the order while Avishka Fernando eased to 37 before an excellent running catch by Santner ended his innings, giving stand-in skipper Tim Southee (2-18) the first of his two wickets.
Seth Rance was the pick of the New Zealand attack, however, claiming 3-33. The seamer picked up the crucial scalp of Niroshan Dickwella with a clever slower delivery, trapping the batsman lbw for a top score of 39 from 30 deliveries.
The third and final T20 of the series takes place on Friday.