BENGALURU– Trent Boult’s rediscovery of his magic with new ball fuelled New Zealand’s frantic five-wicket victory over a wretched Sri Lanka and kept their World Cup semifinals dreams intact here on Thursday.
Daryl Mitchell (43 off 31 balls) milked the sound platform given by openers Devon Conway (45 off 42 balls) and Rachin Ravindra (42 off 34 balls) with their 86-run stand as the Kiwis hunted down the target of 172 in 23.2 overs.
The result helped them to snap a four-match losing streak in the event, and it was also the perfect culmination of the demolition job started by Boult with his outstanding three-wicket burst (3/37).
New Zealand (NRR: +0.743) have 10 points after their league engagements and they will in all likelihood join India, Australia and South Africa in the last four stage, unless Pakistan or Afghanistan, who are on eight points apiece, create some miracle.
In their final league match, Pakistan (NRR: +0.036) will face England on Saturday while Afghanistan (NRR: -0.338) will lock horns with South Africa on Friday.
In the backdrop of all those calculations, it was important for the Kiwis to win handsomely to stay ahead of the other contenders, and both Conway and Ravindra were aware of it. They exploited the struggles of Lankan bowlers to find the right line quite mercilessly.
At 88 for 2 in the 14th over, New Zealand were not in any trouble but they needed some quick runs to stay ahead in run rate mathematics.
Mitchell did precisely that. The right-hander has been a silent success story for the Black Caps in this showpiece, having amassed over 400 runs averaging 67.33 at a strike-rate of 109.78.
Coming in at No. 4, the 32-year-old often worked as the link between top and down the order batters, gluing the innings together.
He performed that task once again with carefully planned stroke-play and Mitchell picking the gaps with precision was a treat to watch.
Sri Lanka: 171 in 46.4 overs (Kusal Perera 51; Trent Boult 3/37, Mitchell Santner 2/22).
New Zealand: 172 for 5 in 23.2 overs (Devon Conway 45, Daryl Mitchell 43, Rachin Ravindra 42; Angelo Mathews 2/29).
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