Batting blitz gives Blackcaps first Bay Oval ODI
The Blackcaps have gone one up in the ODI series against Sri Lanka at the Bay Oval, but the visitors came close enough to their mammoth target of 372 to suggest they'll be contenders when the two sides meet again at the same venue on Saturday.
Sri Lanka were dismissed for 326 in 49 overs, to give the Blackcaps the win by a 45 run margin, but it was an impressive reply to the home side's extraordinary effort of 371 for seven from a team given next to no chance at the innings break.
Possibly the happiest spectator in a well packed Bay Oval crowd of over 6200 may have been Turf Manager Jared Carter, who saw 697 runs scored on the pitch he prepared.
Martin Guptill's player-of-the-match winning innings of 138 off 139 balls was the highlight for the Blackcaps after captain Kane Williamson won the toss and chose to bat first on his home ground.
Guptill goes to 50 with a six over square leg...
...And slashes through cover to reach his century
It was the opener’s 14th ODI century, and second in succession against Sri Lanka at the Bay Oval after achieving the same feat three summers ago. During the innings, his first in national colours since returning from a calf injury, he brought up his 6000th ODI run.
It came close to being upstaged though by another returning to the international fold, Jimmy Neesham, who slammed 47 not out off just 13 balls to close out the innings. His incredible knock included five sixes off the 49th over.
Neesham hits one of his five sixes in the 49th over
Earlier skipper Kane Williamson, with 76 from 74 balls, had joined Guptill in a partnership of 163, while Ross Taylor with 54 off 37 also played a strong supporting role.
A 119 run opening partnership between Niroshan Dickwella, who made 76 off 50, and Danushka Gunathilaka, and then 102 off just 86 balls from Kusal Perera, gave the visitors a distant hope of pulling off an incredible victory, but they will regret that no-one else in their batting lineup could keep up the pace.
Sri Lanka had their fair share of support in the crowd of over 6200
Though the New Zealand bowling attack, spearheaded by Tauranga's Trent Boult, struggled to stem the flow of runs, they picked up wickets at a steady enough rate to keep them in pole position once the opening partnership had been broken.
Neesham followed up his impressive batting work with a handy bowling performance, taking three wickets at a healthy economy rate of 4.75.
Ish Sodhi also looked good with two wickets from his 10 overs at 5.3 runs per over, while Boult and Lockie Ferguson took two wickets apiece.
The two sides meet again tomorrow at the Bay Oval for the second of the three -match ODI series, with the same start time of 2pm.
Debutante wicketkeeper Tim Seifert of the Northern Knights takes his fourth catch of the match
Blackcaps skipper Kane Williamson