New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by five wickets in a close affair in the first T20I at the Pallekele International Stadium thus took 1-0 lead in three match series.
Ross Taylor spoiled Lasith Malinga’s party of becoming the leading wicket-taker in the shortest format. Taylor escorted the Kiwis from a default position of losing 3 wickets in 39 runs and complete the win with three balls left.
Taylor hit a rapid 48 on the way to build 79 runs fourth wicket partnership with Colin de Grandhomme, who scored 44.
In later stages, Daryl Mitchell putting 25 off 19 deliveries, and Mitchell Santner, scoring 14, steered New Zealand home of victory with an unbeaten 31-run stand.
In the first half of the match, Lasith Malinga won the toss and decided to bat first.
Opener Kusal Perera scored 11 before being dismissed by Kiwi skipper Tim Southee. When Avishka Fernando at one down also lost his wicket making 10, Sri Lanka slipped to 68 for two.
Kusal Mendis built crucial partnership of 63-run in the third wicket with Niroshan Dickwella. Dickwella made 33.
Mendis scored top with 79 ff 53 balls to help Sri Lanka post 174 for four at the end of the twentieth over. It was his fifth Twenty20 half century .
In this particular match, Lasith Malinga surpassed former Pakistani all-rounder Shahid Afridi to become the highest wicket-taker in T20I cricket. Playing 74 matches, Malinga have now 99 wickets.
At the end of the match, Kiwi skipper Tim Southee said, “The way Daryl Mitchell finished it off was great with the bat. The experienced partnership got us back in the game and then the young guys at the end played with freedom.
“We were probably going to bat at the toss, but Ross and Colin got us back in the game, so who knows what would have happened,” he said.
The second T20I is scheduled for Tuesday at the Pallekele International Stadium in Kandy.
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