Black Caps stunned in super over by Sri Lanka


The Black Caps’ extended unbeaten run has been ended in the shortest form, edged by Sri Lanka in a thrilling first Twenty20 at Eden Park.

After Ish Sodhi dramatically levelled the scores with a towering six from the final ball of the innings, the tourists comfortably triumphed in the subsequent super over to seize a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Sodhi’s whipped six pulled his side level on 196-8 and left the match tied, before Maheesh Theekshana made the decisive contribution.

The offspinner removed Jimmy Neesham and Mark Chapman while ceding eight runs in the additional over, which Adam Milne was unable to defend as Charith Asalanka blasted his second ball over the boundary and clipped the third to the rope.

That brought to a halt the Black Caps’ five-match winning streak across formats, having been without defeat since the first test against England in February. It also represented Sri Lanka’s first victory of the tour after they were swept aside in the tests and ODIs.

Asalanka (67 from 41) offered an early hint of what was to come as he and Kusal Perera (53no from 45) put together a pivotal fourth-wicket partnership of 103, leading Sri Lanka to 196-5 once they had been sent in. Only Neesham (2-30) and Sodhi (0-33) avoided punishment, as the three frontline seamers all leaked runs.

It added up to a formidable total, but Daryl Mitchell (66 off 44) put the hosts on-track and Rachin Ravindra (26 off 13) added a valuable late cameo to set up Sodhi’s heroics.

There was no sign of the run-fest to follow when Milne found swing and nicked out Pathum Nissanka from the first ball of the innings — not that he knew much about it. The appeal came entirely from behind the stumps, and Tom Latham’s review revealed a faint edge to give the hosts a perfect start.

But from there, Sri Lanka looked comfortable with the bat in hand for the first time on the limited-overs portion of their tour, with Kusal Mendis setting an ideal tone. The opener attacked as Ben Lister struggled to find length, taking 16 runs from the second over, including one audacious scoop deep over the fine-leg fence.

Henry Shipley’s immediate introduction proved effective, as his extra bounce saw Mendis (25 off 9) fall as he mistimed a pull. Neesham followed the trend of striking in his first over, inducing a false shot from Dhananjaya de Silva, but that initiated the key stand.

After ending the powerplay on 72-3, boasting a run rate of 12, Sodhi proved somewhat effective in staunching the flow, but Asalanka and Perera continued a steady accumulation.

Sri Lanka reached 99-3 at the halfway mark and Asalanka registered a half-century from 32 balls, putting his side in position to launch in the death overs. But his wicket in the 17th over — looking to slog-sweep Lister out of the ground — prompted a good fight-back from the hosts.

Lister, Neesham and Milne combined to record 2-11 from overs 17-19, before Hasaranga de Silva added a late flourish by cracking 15 from Shipley’s final over.

Sri Lanka started with the offspin of Theekshana and found immediate success, with Tim Seifert trapped for a three-ball duck. And when T20I debutant Chad Bowes missed a straightening delivery in the following over, the Black Caps were in an early hole at 3-2.

Mitchell began with a beautiful lofted drive for six and, repeating the dose a couple of overs late, lifted his side to 58-2 at the end of the powerplay. Latham (27 off 16) also looked to push the pace and found some success, but soon flicked straight to a deep square leg from Pramod Madushan.

That ended a 63-run stand from 39 balls as the Black Caps progressed to 81-3 after 10 overs, leaving them needing another 116 from the next 10. That quest began well as Chapman collected a couple of quick sixes, the second part of a 24-run 12th over bowled by Dilshan Madushanka.

That was the best of the match and saw Mitchell surpass 50, dropping the required rate closer to 10. But Chapman’s (33 off 22) stay ended in the 15th over, holing out from Hasaranga, and the equation stood at 59 needed from the final 30 balls.

The numbers then turned in Sri Lanka’s favour when skipper Dasun Shanaka introduced himself and snared the key wicket of Mitchell, picking out midwicket with an under-hit flick.

After Neesham departed while attempting to reverse-sweep Hasaranga to end the 17th over, Ravindra gave his side some hope by clubbing consecutive sixes and reducing the target to 23 from the final two overs.

Thirteen more were required from Shanaka’s last, and that number proved unlucky for Ravindra, leaving Sodhi to send the game to a super over.

By Kris Shannon