New Zealand earned two points in a low-scoring thriller by beating Sri Lanka by just a solitary wicket in Cardiff.
Batting first, Sri Lanka scored paltry 138 in 37.5 overs with the help of Kumar Sangakkara's 75th half-century in One Day Internationals. In reply, the Kiwi top order made a mess of it before Nathan McCullum and tail held their nerves to win it in the 37th over. (Read match report)
Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews said while the batsmen let the side down, bowlers were fantastic on their part. "We needed another 30-40 runs. This was not a 200-250 wicket and we misread the wicket. There was some help for the bowlers but the batsman let us down. The bowlers showed tremendous character and I am happy with their performance," Mathews said. (Stats)
Lasith Malinga bagged 4 wickets in the match and brought Sri Lanka very close to winning. "I had confidence in the bowlers and they did a fantastic job. (Lasith) Malinga is a wonderful bowler and he almost won it for us. (Tillakaratne) Dilshan also bowled very well. We have two more games and we have to win both. Our batting has to perform better," he added. (Also read: 'Win against Pakistan will be a nice get-well message for Mandela')
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum was a relieved man and said the lower order did well to help Kiwis start their campaign on a winning note.
"I am happy with the win. Our record against Sri Lanka has not been great and they are always a dangerous side. The wicket was stopping a touch and with the quality of the Lankan bowlers and it was a tough chase. We were lucky to string some partnerships towards the end. The experience of the players down the order was crucial and they assessed the situation well," the skipper said. (Pakistan not new to pressure games, says Misbah-ul-Haq)
The 31-year-old also said the credit for the win must go to bowlers. "The bowling clinched the match for us and we were looking to restrict them to under 170. The bowlers kept taking wickets at regular intervals and it was a tremendous performance," he said.
Nathan McCullum was the star of the match as he bagged two wickets and played a match-winning knock to help the Black Caps get over the line. (See pictures)
"I was nervous before in my younger days but I am not that nervous anymore. Brendon (McCullum) was the senior partner and he guided me very well. It was nice to string this partnership but I am disappointed that we could not get it over the line. We wanted to bat for as long as we could and we hung in there," said Nathan.
The 32-year-old also this win will boost their confidence going into the next couple opf matches. "This is a massive boost for us and we hope to continue the good work in the next couple of games. It was a slowish wicket and I liked it as a spinner," he added.