Nelson: Kane Williamson made a welcome return to the New Zealand side with an elegant century to set up a four-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the fourth one-day international today.
Backed by lusty hitting from Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi, New Zealand overtook Sri Lanka's 276 with 11 balls to spare and move 2-1 ahead in the seven-match series. In a tense finish New Zealand needed 47 off 36 balls when the 24-year-old Williamson was removed for 103, his fifth ODI century.
Kane Williamson. Pic/ AFP
Anderson was run out for 47 with New Zealand needing 32 runs with 26 balls left. Up stepped Luke Ronchi to blast a rapid 32 including three sixes and Daniel Vettori hit a four as New Zealand finished with a flourish.
After losing the early wickets of Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor cheaply, an unflustered Williamson led the rescue mission, first in partnership with Grant Elliott and then with Anderson. He brought up his century with a steady accumulation of singles, only reaching the boundary seven times with six fours and a six.
But having attained the milestone he was bowled by Thisara Perera and Anderson vacated the field soon after. McCullum, on whom New Zealand rely heavily to get off to a good start, failed to oblige this time with a gentle poke at a Nuwan Kulasekera delivery and was caught at mid on for just 11.
Guptill failed to back up from his unbeaten 66 in the washed out third match in Auckland on Saturday as he was caught behind for 20 while Taylor went cheaply for eight as New Zealand slumped to 63-3 after 15 overs. Elliott, who scored 44, was happy to accumulate singles in a patient 88-run stand with Williamson which ensured there were wickets in hand for the final run chase.
Sri Lanka's innings was the product of finely constructed performances by their two elder statesmen Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. Between them the 37-year-olds contributed all but 106 of Sri Lanka's 276 with Jayawardene scoring 94 off 82 deliveries and Sangakkara, who moved up to third on the list of top ODI run scorers, making 76 off 83.
Sangakkara now has 13,490 runs, 214 behind Australian Ricky Ponting on a list headed by Indian great Sachin Tendulkar who amassed 18,426 runs. Tillakaratne Dilshan, who made 44 in a 102-run stand with Sangakkara for the second wicket, was the only other Sri Lankan batsman to top 20 as the New Zealand bowlers carved up the lower order.
In the space of 30 deliveries, six wickets fell for just 31 runs with the Sri Lankan innings folding three balls from the scheduled end.