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New Zealand made the perfect start to the World Cup when a swashbuckling Brendon McCullum led his side to a 98-run win over Sri Lanka at Hagley Oval in Christchurch Saturday.
McCullum's quickfire 65 set New Zealand up for an imposing 331-6, with Kane Williamson adding 57 in the middle of the innings and Corey Anderson blasting 75 off 46 at the tail.
Sri Lanka made a steady start in reply and were 124-1 in the 22nd over, setting themselves up for a big finish.
But on a grey Christchurch day, where the temperature hovered around 13 degrees Celsius, they were soon to feel the heat as New Zealand mounted a triple strike and they were all out for 233 with nearly four overs remaining.
In the space of 12 balls Trent Boult and Daniel Vettori combined to take three wickets for five runs to reduce Sri Lanka to 129-4.
Premier batsmen Lahiru Thirimanne (65), Kumar Sangakkara (39) and Mahela Jayawardene (0) were back in the hutch as the batting collapse, a familiar part of Sri Lanka's pre World Cup performances, reappeared.
Sangakkara had the consolation of passing former Australian captain Ricky Ponting as the second highest run-maker in one-day international history.
Adam Milne then removed Dimuth Karunaratne (14) and Jeevan Mendis (4) to have Sri Lanka at 168-6, facing a run rate of nearly 10, and New Zealand firmly in command.
New Zealand's dominance underscored their rising status as serious contenders in a tournament where they have never previously gone further than the semi-finals.
In heavily overcast conditions and with a little drizzle in the air that delayed the start by a few minutes, Sri Lanka won the toss and put New Zealand into bat in conditions ripe for swing bowling.
But it was the New Zealand batsmen who took control with McCullum setting the tournament alight in a 111-run opening partnership off 95 deliveries with Martin Guptill.
McCullum, at his destructive best in a 49-ball stay, smacked one six and 10 fours, including three boundaries off the first four balls he faced, to the delight of the partisan New Zealand crowd.
He was particularly harsh on Sri Lanka's bowling ace Lasith Malinga who was quickly removed from the attack when McCullum peppered the boundary for a lusty 22 off his fourth over.
McCullum, Guptill (49) and Williamson led New Zealand to 183-2 in the 34th over when Mendis dismissed Williamson and Ross Taylor in consecutive balls.
But any hopes Sri Lanka had that the tide was turning were quickly dashed with the arrival of Anderson at the crease and the former holder of the fastest ODI century record mercilessly launched into the bowling.
His partnerships with Grant Elliott and then Luke Ronchi produced 102 runs in the last 10 overs.
Mendis took two wickets for five for Sri Lanka, but only bowled two overs while Suranga Lakmal took two for 62 off 10.
Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thirimanne put on 67 for the first wicket in Sri Lanka's reply before being parted by Vettori.
The 36-year-old, who relies more on guile than spin, baffled Dilshan on 24 with a subtle change of pace and was rewarded with a simple return catch.
Thirimanne and Sangakkara added 57 for the second wicket before the innings fell apart.
For New Zealand, Vettori, Southee, Boult, Milne and Anderson took two wickets each.
Sri Lanka innings
New Zealand earned the first points of the World Cup after crushing Sri Lanka by 98 runs with nearly four overs to spare at Hagley Oval.
Corey Anderson adjudged man of the match for his 75 and two for 18.
It was a clinical performance by the pre-tournament favourites and hosts New Zealand who racked up a mammoth 331-6 after being put into bat.
Black Caps rode on blistering half centuries by skipper McCullum (65), Williamson (57) and Anderson plundering 102 runs in the last 10 overs.
Thirimanne kept alive Sri Lanka's hopes with fluent knock of 65 but his dismissal triggered a collapse which saw them slide from 124-1 to 129-4 within the space of three overs.
Jayawardene was out for a duck while Sangakkara (39) fell in successive overs.
Skipper Mathews (46) delayed the inevitable but Sri Lanka never looked like chasing the imposing target of 332.
Southee, Boult, Milne, Vettori and Anderson claimed two wickets apiece.
Herath is the last man out as he scoops Anderson as Sri Lanka are all out for 233 in 46.1 overs.
Rangana Herath c Milne b Anderson 13 (19b 2x4 0x6)
Malinga does not last long giving Ronchi catching practice as Southee picks up another wicket. SL 217-9, 41.5 overs.
Lasith Malinga c Ronchi b Southee 0 (1b 0x4 0x6)
Vettori takes a well judged catch as Mathews perishes. SL 216-8, 41.2 overs.
Angelo Mathews c Vettori b Southee 46 (52b 5x4 0x6)
Anderson finally gets Kulasekera. SL 196-7, 38.2 overs.
Nuwan Kulasekara c Elliott b Anderson 10 (21b 1x4 0x6)
Mathews lives dangerously but has no qualms to hook a short ball from Southee to the midwicket boundary. SL 195-6, 38 overs.
Kulasekera survives as Taylor spills an edge off Anderson. SL 187-6, 37 overs.
Vettori completes an excellent spell returning figures of 10-034-2. SL 179-6, 35 overs.
Double strike by Milne as Mendis departs being caught behind off a top edge with New Zealand overturning the not out verdict. SL 168-6, 32 overs.
Jeewan Mendis c Ronchi b Milne 4 (4b 1x4 0x6)
Milne strikes knocking back the stumps of Karunaratne. SL 163-5, 31.2 overs.
Dimuth Karunaratne b Milne 14 (21b 0x4 0x6)
Mathews hits a much needed boundary as he pounces on a short ball from Vettori. SL 161-4, 31 overs.
Boult strikes the death knell for Sri Lanka trapping Sangakkara who shuffles across and is unsuccessful with the decision review. SL 129-4, 24 overs.
Kumar Sangakkara lbw b Boult 39 (38b 5x4 0x6)
Vettori strikes a massive blow as Mahela is out for a duck caught behind. SL 125-3, 23 overs.
Mahela Jayawardene c Ronchi b Vettori 0 (4b 0x4 0x6)
Boult strikes with a perfect yorker to knock off stump of Thirimmane. SL 124-2, 22 overs.
Lahiru Thirimanne b Boult 65 (60b 8x4 0x6)
Sri Lanka are picking up boundaries almost every over with Sangakkara dancing down the track and lofting Boult to long-off. SL 112-1, 20 overs.
Thirimanne loft Elliot to long off for a boundary. SL 103-1, 19 overs.
Boult strays on the leg and Sangakkara punishes him with a flick to the fence. SL 97-1, 18 overs.
Thirimanne completes an impressive half century off 45 balls. SL 91-1, 17 overs.
Sangakkara gets going with consecutive boundaries off Milne with gorgeous shots on either side of the wicket. SL 86-1, 16 overs.
Vettori strikes as Dilshan chips back a return catch. SL 67-1, 13 overs.
Tillakaratne Dilshan c and b Vettori 24 (41b 2x4 0x6)
Thirimanne is dealing boundaries getting a couple more off Milne including an uppercut over the keeper. SL 64-0, 11 overs.
Sound start by Sri Lankan opening pair of Thirimanne and Dilshan. SL 46-0, 10 overs.
Thirimanne on song steering Southee to third man fence. SL 42-0, 9 overs.
Thirimanne slams consecutive boundaries off Boult through the covers and pulls a short one to midwicket. SL 37-0, 8 overs.
Dilshan who has been struggling gets on top of a short ball from Southee to pull it to the fence. SL 29-0, 7 overs.
Thirimanne punches Boult straight down the ground for a boundary. SL 24-0, 6 overs.
Thirimanne hits the first boundary of the innings with a sweetly timed cover drive off Boult while Dilshan gets one off an inside edge. SL 13-0, 2 overs.
New Zealand innings
Blistering half centuries by skipper Brendon McCullum (65), Kane Williamson (57) and Corey Anderson (75) helped New Zealand make an imposing 331-6 after being put into bat by Sri Lanka.
New Zealand plundered 102 runs in the last 10 overs after Guptill (49) laid the foundation with a 111-run opening stand with McCullum who clubbed 10 fours and a six in his blazing knock.
After being pegged back in the middle overs by Lakmal and spin trio Herath, Mendis and Dilshan, Anderson led the assault in the latter part of the innings cracking eight boundaries and two sixes.
McCullum plundered 23 off one over from Malinga who went for 84 while Kulasekera claimed one for 78 in eight overs.
Mendis claimed two for five and Lakmal two for 62 while Herath was the most economical returning figures of 9-0-37-1.
Anderson is out off the last ball of the innings but New Zealand finish on 331-6, 50 overs.
Corey Anderson c Lakmal b Kulasekara 75 (46b 8x4 2x6)
Anderson smashes Kulasekera down the ground for a boundary to complete his fifty off 36 balls which is followed by a six to bring up the 300 of the innings. NZ 309-5, 48 overs.
Malinga strikes rattling the stumps of Elliott but the bowler has marginally overstepped. NZ 294-5, 47 overs.
Mendis drops a skier from Anderson as Lakmal goes for 17 in his final over. NZ 287-5, 46 overs.
Ronchi gets going with a couple of boundaries off Malinga. NZ 270-5, 45 overs.
Lakmal strikes with Elliot holing out a full toss to square leg. NZ 258-5, 43.5 overs.
Grant Elliott c Thirimanne b Lakmal 29 (34b 2x4 0x6)
Anderson has bludgeoned a wide delivery from Lakmal through the offside for a boundary. NZ 237-4, 41 overs.
Black Caps get 33 in the Batting Powerplay. NZ 229-4, 40 overs.
Chandimal misjudges a possible chance as Anderson smashes Dilshan over the ropes. NZ 210-4, 37 overs.
Double blow for New Zealand as Sangakkara brings off a brilliant stump with Taylor being outfoxed by Mendis. NZ 193-4, 33.4 overs.
Ross Taylor st Sangakkara b Mendis 14 (28b 0x4 0x6)
Karunaratne takes a brilliant catch in the deep as Williamson attempts another big shot. NZ 193-3, 33.3 overs.
Kane Williamson c Karunaratne b Mendis 57 (65b 5x4 1x6)
Williamson finds the gap on the leg side off Dilshan for another boundary. NZ 183-2, 32 overs.
Williamson smashes a boundary and six off consecutive balls from Kulasekera to complete his half century off 59 balls. NZ 183-2, 32 overs.
Williamson breaks the shackles pulling Mathews to midwicket for their first boundary in quite a while. NZ 165-2, 30 overs.
Williamson opens his shoulders slog sweeping Herath for a boundary. NZ 142-2, 24 overs.
Lakmal strikes as Sangakkara hangs onto a nick from Guptill who had smashed a boundary previous ball. NZ 136-2, 22.2 overs.
Martin Guptill c Sangakkara b Lakmal 49 (62b 5x4 0x6)
Williamson gets a streaky boundary off Lakmal. NZ 122-1, 19 overs.
Williamson survives as Sangakkara fails to latch on to a sharp chance after a big nick which falls just short. NZ 112-1, 17 overs.
What a catch by Jeewan Mendis on the boundary to get rid of the dangerous McCullum as Sri Lanka break the opening stand. NZ 111-1, 15.5 overs.
Brendon McCullum c Mendis b Herath 65 (49b 10x4 1x6)
Guptill brings up the 100 of the innings with a boundary off Herath. NZ 104-0, 14 overs.
McCullum has raced to his 50 off 35 balls and blasts Herath back over his head for his ninth boundary. NZ 87-0, 12 overs.
Good over for Sri Lanka as Herath concedes just three runs. NZ 77-0, 10 overs.
McCullum has crashed Mathews for a boundary as New Zealand skipper puts Lanka to the sword. NZ 74-0, 9 overs.
Malinga goes for 23 as McCullum unleashes his wide array of shots blasting four boundaries and six off a free hit. NZ 68-0, 8 overs.
Guptill gets going hitting two consecutive boundaries off Kulasekera to fine leg and through the offside. NZ 37-0, 5 overs.
McCullum is on song steering Kulasekera deftly to third man fence and Black Caps are off to a flying start. NZ 20-0, 3 overs.
McCullum is in great touch smashing Malinga through the off for his second boundary. NZ 15-0, 2 overs.
Brendon McCullum hits the first boundary of the World Cup cracking Kulasekera past point. NZ 6-0,1 over.
The first runs in the World Cup comes off a wide by Kulasekera.
The covers are still on causing a slight delay in the start of play as the moisture is being swept from the outfield.
Sri Lanka have won the toss and invited New Zealand to bat first.
New Zealand - MJ Guptill, BB McCullum, KS Williamson, LRPL Taylor, GD Elliott, CJ Anderson, L Ronchi, DL Vettori, TG Southee, AF Milne, TA Boult
Sri Lanka - TM Dilshan, HDRL Thirimanne, KC Sangakkara, DPMD Jayawardene, AD Mathews, FDM Karunaratne, BMAJ Mendis, KMDN Kulasekara, RAS Lakmal, HMRKB Herath, SL Malinga
Slinging express pace bowler Lasith Malinga is fit for Sri Lanka's opening World Cup clash against New Zealand at Hagley Oval on Saturday, captain Angelo Mathews said.
Malinga had ankle surgery in September and just returned to action in Sri Lanka's two warm-up matches, against South Africa and Zimbabwe, prior to the World Cup.
The mercurial paceman missed the recent series against the World Cup co-hosts, who went on to comfortably win the seven-match ODI series 4-2 to give themselves a confidence boost ahead of the global showpiece.
"Lasith will definitely play and he is fit to go," Mathews told reporters on Friday, before declining to name his 11 for the opening match.
Malinga has been a key component of Sri Lanka's performances in the last two World Cups, where they have made the final both times, particularly at the death with his late swinging yorkers proving unplayable at times.
His absence was noticed during the recent one day series, where Sri Lanka looked out of sorts during their buildup to the tournament, having arrived in New Zealand in mid-December and lost the test series 2-0 and then the ODI series.
To top that off, they were well beaten by Zimbabwe in their final World Cup warmup match at Lincoln earlier this week.
The team have also been too reliant on the big three of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene to score their runs while their pace attack has looked tame without the blonde-tinted hair of Malinga charging in.
"We had a couple of bad practice matches but we are not concerned about it because we were giving guys opportunities," Mathews said of their final warmup clashes.
"We have a fairly experienced team but the past is the past and we can't look too far ahead. We need to take each game as it comes.
"We've got to be aggressive and play good cricket to win against New Zealand. They're on a roll so we need to back our strengths and go out there and be positive."
Malinga's return to the side will provide a definite challenge to Brendon McCullum's side, though the New Zealand captain said they had spoken at length of facing the 31-year-old, particularly at the end of an innings when he is most lethal.
"We have done a lot of preparation for him," McCullum said. "He is a world class bowler and makes a significant impact to their bowling lineup.
"He is a fantastic death bowler and Sri Lanka is certainly a better side with Lasith Malinga in it."
McCullum hails 'best' team
hailed New Zealand's World Cup side as the best of the four that he has played with and the captain was certain the Black Caps were well equipped to deal with the rising expectation of a maiden title.
McCullum's side open the tournament against Sri Lanka on Saturday at Hagley Oval riding a wave of optimism not seen since the early 1990s.
New Zealand's six pool games are virtually sold out such is the feel good factor after successive series victories over Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the last six weeks.
"Certainly the ones (World Cup teams) that I've played in, it's the best team and we tick most boxes," the 33-year-old McCullum told reporters on Friday. "The style of play is something we're comfortable with.
"We've got a nice mix of youth and experience and a team that I'm really comfortable taking into the World Cup and we'll give ourselves a good chance.
"But we know the slate is clean starting tomorrow."
New Zealand have made the semi-finals six times, but have only realistically come close to making the final twice, in 1979 and again in 1992 when a Martin Crowe-inspired team captured the imagination of the country.
The 1992 side have been prominent in the build up to this year's tournament and have reminded the public that they had snuck up on cricket's big guns having been hammered 3-0 by England in a series just before the World Cup.
Many pundits, however, have picked New Zealand as the third favourites behind Australia and South Africa after a succession of solid performances leading into the tournament.
Methodical coach Mike Hesson had set the team certain tasks to achieve in their matches prior to the World Cup to replicate what they may need to do during the global showpiece, such as win chasing a small total, win chasing a big total, setting a big total, defending small totals, recovering from collapses.
All had been achieved and McCullum acknowledged dealing with those scenarios had helped alleviate expectations on the team.
"It's something we have mitigated against a little while ago" he said. "We knew that if we put in some performances beforehand then we knew that we would be able to handle it when expectations rose.
"But guys are feeling confident in the group. We have got the culture right. We're all in the right seats in the bus heading in the right direction.
"Now it's a matter of how we seize the opportunities we get."
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