WICKET! New Zealand grab another one, but it's not the wicket they wanted. Mendis had just struck his first boundary off Franklin, a well-placed pull to long leg, but then drove the ball flat and hard into the short extra cover fielder's hands. That's a good, tumbling catch from Taylor. The required run rate has just crept up to 8.40 an over. Can Dilshan guide his side home?
Nathan McCullum's flat darts keep Mendis and Dilshan quiet after the wicket. Just singles from this over. There'll be some nerves in the Sri Lankan dug-out after the wicket, but as long as Dilshan is at the crease they should canter to a victory from here.
WICKET! Dilshan and Sangakkara are finally separated, Sangakkara undone by some indecisive running and Oram's rocket arm. Dilshan had worked the ball to midwicket, and the batsmen considered taking two. Sangakkara was late in turning back, and though the throw wasn't perfect, Brendon McCullum whipped the bails off with the batsman short. Will that give New Zealand an opening?
Tillekaratne Dilshan goes to a 33-ball half-century with a drive down to long on off Nathan McCullum. The offspinner does well to repair some of the damage done to his figures in his first over, giving away just singles, but the batsmen are untroubled.
Sri Lanka are cruising, and New Zealand simply don't have the bowling to slow them down. Vettori leaks another 10 runs, Sangakkara adding his third boundary with a confident drive up and over extra cover.
Dilshan goes past 1,000 runs in T20Is with a chop down to third man for one, and then Sangakkara takes Sri Lanka's total past 100 with some authoritative batting. He's beaten on the drive by Oram, but the bowler then loses his length and two short balls are smeared to the boundary on either side of the deep midwicket fielder.
Sri Lanka continue to march along at over 10 runs an over, Dilshan and Sangakkara milking this Vettori over until the final delivery, when Sangakkara steps out to launch a stinging shot towards wide long-on.
WICKET! Oram breaks through for New Zealand! Jayawardene's deft touch brought him four runs to third man to start the over, but Oram then got a short one to rush on to the batsman, and a top-edged pull was snaffled by Vettori down at fine leg. Dilshan is not tempered by the wicket, going into the 40s with a dab to third man that is the mirror of Jayawardene's earlier stroke.
Taylor turns to Vettori, trying to rein in this Sri Lankan run rate, but Jayawardene keeps the runs flowing with a well-timed sweep to long leg for four. Both he and Dilshan also look for singles to rotate the strike, and eight runs come from the over.
The batsmen are becalmed as Jacob Oram comes into the attack. He keeps them to a run a ball with a splice-jarring length.
These Sri Lankan openers are unstoppable at the moment. Southee's on the receiving end once again, Dilshan shellacking him into the stands beyond midwicket to start the over. The bowler responds with a ballooning bouncer, which is wided by Aleem Dar. Southee has a needless grumble at the umpire, and his frustration increases as Dilshan lances a drive, on the up, to the cover boundary. Jayawardene matches his strokeplay with an effortless slap over deep midwicket, and 19 runs are taken from the over. The crowd are loving this.
Jayawardene is laying down a marker with some incredible hitting. There's not a slog in sight as he threads a first-class drive through the covers, and then skips out to lift the ball over extra cover with timing, finesse and power. Another great over for Sri Lanka, they're sprinting along at almost 11 to the over.
Jayawardene's innings is up and running with an astonishing shot off Tim Southee. Southee drifted one in towards Mahela's pads, and the batsman sent the ball rocketing over fine leg with a flick that had as much power as it did grace. You don't need to slog to hit sixes in a Twenty20. You just have to be Mahela Jayawardene. Singles from the remainder of the over keep Sri Lanka ahead of the asking rate.
Kyle Mills' waspish medium pace swingers are treated with rather more respect than McCullum's 'spin', and just three runs come from his first over. Nathan McCullum is also treated to the indignity of being completed flattened by Dilshan at the non-striker's end. McCullum was at mid-off, and ran to the wicket to field a ball, only to run into Dilshan, who took his legs right out from underneath him. A real gridiron hit. "That's for Akila," Dilshan didn't say.
Nathan McCullum opens the bowling, coming round the wicket to both batsmen. There's a group of people in the crowd holding up signs imploring Dilshan to "scoop it", but his first boundary comes with a rather more orthodox sweep down to fine leg. It's well struck, but not nearly as well struck as his second shot - a shimmy and a swipe sending the ball sailing over wide long-on. He ends the over with a dismissive loft down the ground to send the crowd into hysterics, 17 runs coming from the first over.
WICKET! The innings ends with a run-out off the last ball. Franklin gave New Zealand a boost with a bunt down the ground to a Kulasekara full toss, but the bowler generally did well enough to keep the batsmen quiet. This is a really good batting track, and Sri Lanka will fancy their chances at chasing this down. Neither team will be too unhappy with this score, and the contest has been pretty equal so far. Game on! Join us in 10 minutes for the second innings.
WICKET! Malinga's persistence with the yorker pays off, Nathan McCullum having his stumps disturbed via a ricochet off a swinging bat and pad. A solitary wide is the one blot on a great final over for the Sri Lankan fast bowler. The home side have done well to rein New Zealand in here.
WICKETS! Great death bowling from Kulasekara. He's unlucky as Taylor toe-ends a full ball down to the third man boundary, but strikes back with an invisible back-of-the-hand slower ball. Taylor is through his stroke before the ball even arrives, and has his timber rattled. A one handed Oram slog bounces down the ground for four, but the tall left-hander is then very well caught by Dilshan down at long off. Two overs to go, and two new batsmen at the crease.
Malinga is back into the attack, and now he's attacking the stumps with almost every delivery. Both Taylor and Oram lower their backlifts to counter his full length, and find a couple of singles before Malinga slings one at Taylor's legs and the batsman gets a touch on it to collect four to fine leg. Sri Lanka might have had a wicket from the final delivery, the batsmen setting off for a suicidal single, but Mahela's wild shy bursts out of Malinga's hands and Taylor is safe.
WICKET! Dananjaya has his second! Nicol attempts to mete out the same treatment he'd given Mendis, but slices under the ball and presents a swirling skier for Thirimanne to catch. The young offie is seen off by Taylor and Oram, and ends with the figures of 2 for 32 in his first international. He was touted as a mystery spinner before this game, but there's actually not too much mystery to him. He's got good variations, sure, but is basically just a good, thinking spinner who isn't afraid to give the ball some flight. Which is higher praise than 'mystery spinner', if you ask me.
Wow. Ajantha Mendis took a world record 6 for 8 in his last match, but Nicol is playing him like a net bowler. He goes to fifty with successive slog sweeps over midwicket, and then ends the over with a massive strike over wide long-on. A clearly rattled Mendis flings down a massive off-side wide, and 24 runs flow from the over. It's the power of the 'stache. When you've got something that awful attached to your face, no spinner can possibly scare you. Mendis ends with the figures of 1 for 48 from his four, and New Zealand are heading for an imposing total. If you'd like to send any feedback or let your opinions be known, do get in touch using this email address: email@example.com
Jeevan Mendis hurries through another restrictive over, Nicol and Taylor hustling singles and leg byes until good placement brings Nicol two runs from the final delivery. This is still very much a track to please batsmen, but Sri Lanka have regained some control over the innings through their spinners.
WICKET! McCullum falls to the slog sweep. He got reasonable contact on one from Ajantha Mendis that spun away, but couldn't get the ball further than Thisara Perera's waiting hands. Nicol and Taylor are happy to play the rest of the over with circumspection.
Ouch! Dananjaya has been struck a painful blow to the face. Nicol smashed a full delivery straight back at him, the ball bursting through the 18-year-old's hands and hitting him flush on the cheek. He immediately goes down, and the non-striker McCullum is the first to check on him. The physio runs out, putting ice on the cheek and some tissue paper up his nose to stop any bleeding ... He's a brave bowler who's not about to give up a shot at international cricket, however, and soon carries on. There's already swelling and bruising on one side of his face. The youngster maintains his composure, but can't stop a marauding McCullum from jumping out and thrashing him over long-off for six.
Ajantha Mendis isn't quite at his best today. He does find some extra bounce off this good batting track, an uppish Nicol cut landing just in front of the short third man fielder, but then lets slip with a long-hop that Nicol charges out to crack to the midwicket boundary. Some energetic fielding saves any further boundaries, but nine runs come from the over.
McCullum goes on the counterattack against the 18-year-old Dananjaya, spanking a high full toss straight down the ground for six. Mystery or none, he's quite happy to use his feet but Dananjaya's variations of spin, pace and flight mean the six is the only boundary from the over.
Jeevan Mendis is brought on to bowl some legspin, but he doesn't hold quite the mystery Dananjaya does and is dispatched down the ground for the first six of the game.
WICKET! Mahamarakkala Kurukulasooriya Patabendige Akila Dananjaya Perera (Akila Dananjaya to you and I) has struck in his first international over! Three months ago, he was an unknown teenage net bowler. Now he's taking wickets at the World Twenty20, Guptill lifting a ball straight to Perera at long-off. There's a suitably ecstatic celebration from the young man. Brendon McCullum comes to the crease. It's his birthday today. The last time the Blackcaps celebrated a birthday in Pallekele, it was Ross Taylor's, and the birthday boy celebrated by ending Shoaib Akhtar's career with a fierce display of power-hitting and a century.
The Sri Lankan fielders are certainly being given plenty to do. Malinga doesn't give the best account of himself down at third man, running past a bouncing ball and grasping at fresh air as it spins past him for a boundary. Jeevan Mendis then sprints round the boundary at deep square leg trying to catch a slog sweep. He can't quite get under the chance, but actually does really well just to save the boundary as the ball dips and lands just in front of him. Finally, the long-off fielder gets to a drilled drive but can only parry the ball over the rope.
Part two of the fascinating battle between Guptill and Malinga. The bowler strikes the first blow as Guptill turns the face of the bat too soon on a slower legcutter, and the ball loops down short of the extra cover fielder. Guptill strikes back with a flat-batted punt down the ground, and ends the over with a clip off the hips for two. I expect that'll be the end of Malinga's spell for now, they'll want to keep a couple of overs from him for the death. There's not been a single yorker in his 12 deliveries so far, but we'll surely see some later.
Ajantha Mendis is brought on. His side strain doesn't seem to be affecting him, and there's not much gingerness in his step. Unfortunately, there's also not a great deal of menace in his bowling. With precious little help off the pitch, Nicol and Guptill are both able to read his variations, and Guptill slaps a long-hop to deep cover for his fourth boundary. Overthrows help New Zealand take 10 from the over.
Lasith Malinga is into the attack, and Guptill greets him with a checked nudge off the hip that rolls over the boundary at deep square leg. That shot wouldn't have been out of place in a Test match. A single brings Nicol on strike. He's still got that horrific moustache, by the way. I can only hope there's some irony in the hairy caterpillar occupying his top lip. Facial hair aside, Nicol ends the over with a controlled scoop over short fine leg for his first boundary. Good shot.
Guptill's had enough of the nudging and pushing, and breaks the shackles with a loft down the ground. He's almost stunningly caught by Thisara Perera, at mid-on, off the very next delivery as another heave doesn't get the required elevation. The fielder went airborne, getting both hands to a powerful drive, but couldn't hold on. The chance prompts a change in the field, with mid-on going out to the boundary and third man coming up, and so Guptill immediately switches tactic and runs the ball neatly down to the third man boundary. He offered a chance in that over, but looked pretty classy all the same.
A little surprisingly, it's Angelo Mathews who shares the new ball with Kulasekara. Sangakkara is up to the stumps for his wobbling medium pace, and again the Blackcaps openers find their shot-making restricted. Guptill, in fact, is beaten on the outside edge with consecutive outswingers, and the sluggish start continues as just two singles are found.
No matter the conditions, Kulasekara always seems to find booming inswing through the air. That's certainly the case here, and the match begins with a raucous lbw appeal against Nicol. He also finds the inside half of Guptill's defensive bat, and is generally metronomic in keeping New Zealand's openers to just two runs in the first over.
National anthems, handshakes and other such pleasantries done, umpires Aleem Dar and Simon Taufel, batsmen Martin Guptill and Rob Nicol and the Sri Lankan XI head out to the middle for the start of play.
Typically hot and humid in Pallekele, with a bit of rain forecast for later, which might hamper the second half of today's double-header between England and the West Indies. The deck looks pretty flat, and resident pitch pundit Tony Greig reckons the Black Caps shouldn't settle for anything less than 200 in this important encounter.
Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Ajantha Mendis, Akila Dananjaya.
Martin Guptill, James Franklin, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor, Rob Nicol, Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori, Kane Williamson, Nathan McCullum, Tim Southee, Kyle Mills.
Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis has recovered from a side strain and will play today, while fellow spinner Akila Dananjaya has been afforded a T20I debut. Opening batsman Martin Guptill has recuperated from a hamstring injury, retuning to the Black Caps XI ahead of seamer Adam Milne.
Ross Taylor triumphs at the flip of the coin and New Zealand will bat first.
Hello and welcome to our over-by-over commentary of the World Twenty20 Super Eights Group 1 clash between Sri Lanka and New Zealand at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.