In Bangalore on Thursday, November 9, New Zealand produced a masterful effort to thrash Sri Lanka by five wickets in a match that they had to win to maintain their chances of making it to the semifinals. The outcome all but guarantees the Black Caps a semifinal match against India, barring an extraordinary victory by Afghanistan or Pakistan in their respective matches. The bowlers, Trent Boult (2-37) and Mitchell Santner (2-22) led the assault and set up the triumph. The hitters, however, made a farce of the goal, completing the chase with almost half the allocated overs remaining.
As long as they didn’t lose any early wickets, New Zealand would never have any problems reaching the mark of 172. During the first powerplay, Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra not only stopped early wickets but also proceeded at a rapid pace. The pair’s strokeplay demonstrated how conducive the surface was to batting and helped to set the disastrous performance Sri Lanka had earlier in the day in perspective. Conway took the lead at first, but Ravindra quickly took over the bowling as all of the bowlers received the stick. New Zealand made it apparent that they intended to increase the net run rate as much as they could.
Despite Conway and Ravindra’s deaths, Daryl Mitchell made sure the pace was kept up with his characteristically purposeful strokeplay. While New Zealand bowled more forcefully towards the finish, Sri Lanka was still able to take a few wickets, but the outcome seemed inevitable. After Glenn Phillips hit back-to-back boundaries in the twenty-fourth over to complete the ceremonial, New Zealand won handily in every category. It is impossible to criticize Sri Lanka’s bowlers because the damage was done in the first innings when their hitters did not take advantage of a strong batting surface.
Even though this venue’s field wasn’t as flat as it was for other of the more well-known IPL games, it was still worth playing well. The overhead conditions suited New Zealand’s bowlers, which is probably why Kane Williamson chose to bowl first, the major reason being the bad weather. All Sri Lanka had to do was weather the new ball storm; batting would grow easier as the innings went on. But Boult and Tim Southee, his new ball partner, made early gains, and in the fifth over, Sri Lanka was reeling at 32/3.
Although Kusal Perera’s aggressive half-century did raise hopes of a Lankan counterattack, he too fell short of the milestone as half of Sri Lanka’s team was eliminated in the first ten overs. Kusal Mendis’s side was further prevented from mounting a significant comeback by Santner’s economical middle-overs performance. Sri Lanka’s score was restrained by the excellent bowling and fielding of New Zealand. Even though it was still a very low score, Maheesh Theekshana and Dilshan Madushanka’s 87-ball stand for the final wicket was necessary to give the total some legitimacy. It was expected of New Zealand to breeze through, and they did it with style.