- Sinchan Saha | April 8, 2023 | 2:25 pm
NZ vs SL, 3rd T20I: New Zealand 183 for 6 (Seifert 88, Latham 31, Kumara 3-31) beat Sri Lanka 182 for 6 (Mendis 73, Perera 33, Lister 2-37) by four wickets
New Zealand prevailed by four wickets in the third and final T20I in Queenstown, securing a 2-1 series victory, despite Sri Lanka’s death bowling almost pulling it back from the brink.
Tim Seifert’s 48-ball 88 anchored a successful chase of 183, surpassing Kusal Mendis’ 73 off 43 earlier in the day. However, Seifert might not have anticipated how tense the finish would be when he was dismissed with his team needing just 29 from 23 deliveries with seven wickets remaining.
Only 19 runs would be scored in overs 17 to 19, leaving the hosts needing ten runs to win the final over. A six off the main conveyance appeared to have settled matters however Sri Lanka would land a group full go-around off the following three balls, with Lahiru Kumara getting two wickets and affecting a run out.
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They could have made it four from four as well, but Kumara missed a similar run-out opportunity, giving New Zealand a bye to the goalkeeper. After that, a ball later, Rachin Ravindra hit the winning runs, bringing a collective sigh of relief to New Zealand. It’s a disappointing way to end a difficult tour for Sri Lanka.
The turning point: Henry makes amends
Although Matt Henry’s three-run final over appeared to be crucial even in the moment, hindsight is often 20/20. Sri Lanka had scored 56 runs in the previous five overs, and with five wickets in hand and Wanindu Hasaranga and Charith Asalanka at the crease, both of whom were capable of easily clearing the ropes, Sri Lanka would have been aiming for a total close to 200. To limit the over to singles, Henry, on the other hand, varied his pace and kept it wide and full. Henry was wicketless for 32 of his previous three overs, but he came through strongly at the end to help New Zealand win with just one ball remaining.
Tim Seifert breaks open the chase
Although Chad Bowes’s dismissal in the first over may have hurt morale and momentum, Seifert’s ability to score a boundary in nearly every over up until the 17th, when he was run out, was what ultimately cost Sri Lanka the game. His organizations of 53 and 84 with Bowes and Tom Latham additionally guaranteed that even the turbulent loss of wickets toward the end wouldn’t wreck his side’s pursuit. Seifert struck at over 170 against nearly every Sri Lankan bowler, with the exception of the always excellent Maheesh Theekshana, who maintained an economy rate of 5.50. Hasaranga ended a poor tour by his standards with a wicketless four overs for 41. Seifert struck at over 170 against all of them.
Mendis (and Sri Lanka) ride their luck
Mendis and Pathum Nissanka’s 76-run opening stand gave Sri Lanka their best start of the series. Mendis would go on to score the most runs in a destructive innings with six fours and five sixes but also a fair amount of luck. While two or three confused hits fell barely far away from onrushing defenders, it was him being dropped at first sneak past Daryll Mitchell that truly caused a commotion.
Later on, Ravindra running along the deep-third boundary would grant Mendis a second reprieve. Even with the help of super slow-motion, a frame’s evidence might have been sufficient to support the on-field decision of out, as Kusal Perera would be superbly caught on the boundary line and Mitchell would miss the opportunity to release the ball before tripping over the ropes.
New Zealand make their own luck
New Zealand certainly contributed to repairing as much of the damage as Sri Lanka’s innings was helped along by uncharacteristic fielding errors. The tone was set by James Neesham’s excellent deep take to end Nissanka’s game, which was followed by Adam Milne’s incredible direct hit to end Perera’s game from deep. Dasun Shanaka, who had looked hazardous striking two limits off his initial five deliveries, saw Bowes clutch an interesting skier, before Asalanka was run out by the politeness of another firearm toss from the limit. Henry’s decisive final over included that final one.