Mahela Jayawardene hit his 18th ODI hundred last weekend, but could not prevent Sri Lanka falling to defeat in the first match of the seven game series.
Coming off the back of the 2-0 Test series defeat, Sri Lanka were delighted to have Jayawardene back in the team batting at No. 4, and it was not long before he was at the crease after a terrible start by the tourists.
Sri Lanka's first three batsman Dimuth Karunaratne (5), Tillakaratne Dilshan (19) and Kumar Sangakkara (4) all fell early on, mainly thanks to the bowling of Adam Mile (2-37).
Mile makes his mark
The experienced right-hander steadied the ship but kept the scoring rate as wickets continued to fall. Captain Angelo Matthews was run out for 15, while Lahiru Thirimanne and Jeevan Mendis chipped in with 23 apiece.
It was Jayawardene who stole the show though, managing 104 runs from 107 balls before being caught in the deep off the bowling of Mitchell McClenaghan, who was the pick of the bowlers with a haul taking 4-36.
New Zealand only needed to score at 4.38 runs an over to reach 219 for victory and with opener Martin Guptil being dismissed three balls in, many a batsmen would take a bit of time to work themselves in.
That's not Brendon McCullum's game though, with the 33-year old dismantling Sri Lanka's attack as he hit six 4’s and three 6’s on his way to reaching 51 off 22, before being stumped after attempting to slog Sachithra Senanayake.
The hosts looked set at 63/1, but McCullum wicket was the first of four wickets to fall in a spell of just over 10 overs. At 77/4 it looked like the Black Caps may had blown it, but crucially they had wickets in hand and normally explosive Corey Anderson crafted a well worked 81 off 96 to almost see his side home, before Nathan McCullum (25*) finished the job.
Winning by three wickets, with seven overs to spare sees New Zealand go one up in the series and are finding form at just the right time to be considered a strong outside bet at next month's World Cup.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms