Middle-order batter Glenn Phillips slammed a magnificent century while left-arm fast bowler Trent Boult picked four wickets in career-best figures to lead New Zealand to a commanding 65-run victory over Sri Lanka in their Group 1 match of Super 12 stage in the T20 World Cup at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.
After Phillips made 104 off 64 balls, laced with 10 fours and four sixes, and shared an 84-run stand with Daryl Mitchell to lift New Zealand from 15/3 to 163/7, Boult and Tim Southee reduced Sri Lanka to 8/4 in 3.3 overs. Though Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Dasun Shanaka threatened with some big hits, Sri Lanka were bowled out for 102 in 19.2 overs.
Saturday's victory now sees New Zealand at the top of the table in Group 1 with five points in three matches and edge one step closer to sealing a place in the semifinals. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, stay on two points from three matches. The 65-run victory is also New Zealand's biggest winning margin against Sri Lanka in terms of runs in T20Is.
Electing to bat first, New Zealand were in trouble in the powerplay, losing openers Finn Allen, Devon Conway (dismissed by Maheesh Theekshana) and Kane Williamson (falling to Kasun Rajitha), leaving New Zealand at 15/3 in four overs.
A partnership of 84 was then built by Glenn Phillips and a returning Mitchell (22 off 24 balls), getting New Zealand out of trouble. After steadying the ship, Phillips then upped his strike rate, smashing some brilliant shots as Sri Lanka were hugely hampered by indisciplined bowling and poor fielding, including dropped catches.
Eventually, Phillips, after being dropped twice by the Sri Lanka fielders on 12 and 45, brought up his second T20I hundred, scoring a breathtaking 104 off only 64 balls, hitting 10 fours and four massive sixes in his brilliant knock. He was also well-supported by Mitchell Santner (11 not out) at the end as New Zealand fetched a whopping 113 runs off the last 10 overs.
In reply, the New Zealand experienced fast-bowling duo of Southee and Boult bamboozled Sri Lanka's top four in 3.3 overs, which soon became 58/6 in ten overs. Rajapaksa (34 off 22 balls) entertained with some big shots, while Shanaka (35 off 32 balls) also kept the maximums coming.
But the duo fell, unable to stay at the crease for as long as Sri Lanka would have liked. The New Zealand spin twins, Santner and Ish Sodhi chipped in with two wickets each, as they bowled out their opposition teams back-to-back in T20 World Cup matches for the first time, and boost their chances of reaching the semifinals with a huge spike in the net run rate, now at 3.85.
Brief scores: New Zealand 167/7 in 20 overs (Glenn Phillips 104, Daryl Mitchell 22; Kasun Rajitha 2/23, Maheesh Theekshana 1/35) beat Sri Lanka 102 all out in 19.2 overs (Dasun Shanaka 35, Bhanuka Rajapaksa 34; Trent Boult 4/13, Mitchell Santner 2/21) by 65 runs.