NZ beat Sri Lanka by 3 wickets

Corey Anderson

Corey Anderson

Corey Anderson scored a composed 81 as New Zealand lurched to a three-wicket victory over Sri Lanka yesterday in the first of seven one-day internationals between the two sides before next month’s World Cup.

Anderson strode to the crease with New Zealand 77 for four at Hagley Oval in Christchurch and steadied the innings in a 48-run partnership with Luke Ronchi (17). He then guided them to within the sight of victory alongside Nathan McCullum (25 not out) in a 60-run stand, before he was dismissed with 10 runs needed as the hosts made 219-7 in 43 overs, chasing Sri Lanka’s 218-9.

“I thought it was a really good performance from us,” said New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, who got his side’s run chase off to a blistering start with a 19-ball half century.

“We were outstanding with the ball and in the field but with the bat we made ourselves fight pretty hard . . . and Corey, under pressure, really stepped up nicely and got the job done. “We need to get better, but overall not a bad performance.”

Mahela Jayawardene had anchored Sri Lanka’s innings with his 18th one-day century, before their spinners Sachithra Senanayake and Tillakaratne Dilshan showed how dangerous they could be in the World Cup as they put the middle order under pressure.

Sri Lanka’s innings had been built around Jayawardene, though the 37-year-old did get some middle order assistance from Lahiru Thirimanne (23) and Jeevan Mendis (23) in partnerships worth 118 runs. Jayawardene appeared effortless working the ball into space, though he did tempt fate with several short singles that would, had the fielders’ throw at the stumps hit, have run him out comfortably.

The veteran, who will retire after the World Cup, was dismissed for 104, which included 12 boundaries and a six.

New Zealand’s Mitchell McClenaghan took three wickets in the 47th over, and finished with figures of 4-36, to ensure there were no late blasts from the tail.

“I thought we were about 30 or 40 runs short on that wicket,” Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said.

“I am proud of the way we fought on the field and particularly the way that Sachithra, (Nuwan) Kulasakera and Dilshan bowled. They’re our main bowlers and we needed them to come back hard.”

The second game is in Hamilton on Jan. 15. Meanwhile injured captain Michael Clarke has been named in Australia’s 15-man squad for the World Cup in February and March, while front-line spinner Nathan Lyon has been omitted.

Clarke is in a race to be fit for the global showpiece to be held in Australia and New Zealand after hamstring surgery and is likely to miss the start of the tournament.

George Bailey, named vice-captain, will deputise in Clarke’s absence.

Lyon, who last played a one-day international in March 2012, bowled in Australia’s test series win over India but was overlooked in favour of left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty, seen as a more economical choice if not a big wicket-taker.

Australia’s selectors have also picked 21-year-old fast bowler Pat Cummins in a pace battery that includes Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

Australia World Cup Squad:

Michael Clarke (captain), George Bailey, Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson