Guyana:Mahela Jaywardene's breezy 81 went in vain as New Zealand made a winning start to their World Twenty20 campaign, beating Sri Lanka by two wickets in the thrilling inaugural match of the tournament on Friday.
Sri Lanka rode on Jayawardene's career-best Twenty20 score, that came off just 51 balls, to post 135 for six. But Jesse Ryder's 27-ball 42 at the top and Nathan McCullum's (16 off 6) last over heroics sealed the match in favour of New Zealand in 19.5 overs.
With the equation out of their favour after losing all their top-order batsmen, the younger McCullum came up with a four and a six off Lasith Malinga in the final over to finish off the Kiwi run chase in style.
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Earlier opening the attack, Nathan McCullum bowled cleverly to return with figures off one for 17 from his three overs.
Contrary to the result, New Zealand started their run chase on a disastrous note as Angelo Mathews bowled a brilliant wicket maiden first over.
Brendon McCullum's poor run with the bat continued as he mistimed one straight to Lasith Malinga off Mathews in the fourth ball of opening over.
The other Kiwi opener Jesse Ryder, however, went about his business in style, hitting three fours and two sixes en route his 27-ball innings.
He shared 62 runs with Martin Guptil (19 off 24) before two quick wickets brought Sri Lanka right back into the match.
Spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan broke the dangerous second-wicket partnership as he went through Ryder's defence.
Sanath Jayasuriya then made it double celebrations for the Lankans in the next over with a beautiful yorker that Guptil had no answer.
Muralitharan added another to his kitty when Ross Taylor's (9) slog-sweep landed on to the palms of Mathews.
However, it was the eventful 17th over from Mendis that threatened to change the course of the match.
Mendis started on a perfect note, cleaning up Scott Styris (17) in the second ball but with the wicket came in Jacob Oram (15 off 6), who clobbered the mystery spinner for consecutive sixes to pick up 15 runs off the over.
There was more drama stored for the match, as needing 20 runs off the last two overs, Kapugedera clean bowled Oram and then a desperate Gareth Hopkins was run out.
With 10 required of the last over, Nathan McCullum pulled off two magical strikes -- first a boundary and then a six --from his armour to pocket the nail-bitting match in his side's favour.
Earlier, Jayawardene steered Sri Lanka to the modest score with his breezy 81.
While his team-mates struggled to score runs in the slow Providence Stadium wicket, experienced Jayawardene's innings was a classic example of effortless sensible hitting.
He shared a crucial 59-run fourth wicket stand with debutant Dinesh Chandimal (29 off 23) to lay the foundation for the Sri Lanka score.
Shane Bond turned out to be the pick of the Kiwi bowlers as he accounted for two Lankan batsmen by giving away 35 runs.
Opting to bat in the sluggish pitch, the Lankan openers found runs hard to score initially.
Out-of-form Tillakaratne Dilshan's (3 of 19) stay at the crease was a struggle which finally ended with Jacob Oram castling the opener's stumps in his first and innings sixth over.
Skipper Kumar Sangakkara too found runs hard to come by in the slow wicket as he took 11 deliveries to score his four runs before Scott Styris castled his stumps.
Jayawardene, however, showed his team-mates how to build an innings on the wicket and in the effort brought up his third Twenty20 half century in just 33 balls.
Young Chandimal also blossomed in Jayawardene's company as he hit a four and a six during his 23-ball innings before he was brilliantly caught at the boundary by Ross Taylor off Nathan McCullum.
Jayawardene single-handedly shouldered the Sri Lankan innings and hit as many as eight boundaries and two sixes before he was holed up at deep mid-wicket by Nathan McCullum off Tim Southee.
Bond picked up his two wickets in identical fashion in the final over of the Lankan innings.
The Kiwi pacer had both Chamara Kapugedera (11) and Angelo Mathews caught by Nathan McCullum at long off boundary in a span of three balls as the batsmen went for big shots.