BLACKCAPS 331-6 (Corey Anderson 75, Brendon McCullum 65, Kane Williamson 57, Martin Guptill 49) beat Sri Lanka 233 all out (Lahiru Thirimanne 65, Angelo Matthews 46, Daniel Vettori 2-34, Trent Boult 2-64) by 98 runs at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.
In front of a sell-out crowd in an electric atmosphere at Hagley Oval, the BLACKCAPS have made a spectacular start to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 in Christchurch.
The home side, with Brendon McCullum (65) blazing at the start of the innings and Corey Anderson (75) finishing the job, set Sri Lanka 332 to win in the cool and overcast conditions.
The Lions began the chase with positive intent, but crucial breakthroughs from Daniel Vettori, Trent Boult and Adam Milne swung the match into the host’s favour and set up a comfortable victory.
At the start of the day, Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews won the toss and made the easy decision to bowl first, but he got little reward.
Adopted-local McCullum got the BLACKCAPS off to a blazing start when he smashed a quick-fire 65 from 49 balls at the top of the innings. The 33-year-old shrugged off any suggestion of nerves with some carefree shot making.
He combined with Martin Guptill (49), who celebrated his 100th ODI for New Zealand, to put on 111 for the opening stand as the BLACKCAPS dominated the early exchanges.
The eighth over, with Sri Lanka pace-man Lasith Malinga bowling for the first time this year against the Kiwis, summed up the aggressive mood as McCullum hit him to all corners for 23 from the over.
The lead-from-the-front skipper looked to be in total control as he brought up his 28th ODI half century before he holed out in the deep to Jeevan Mendis from the bowling of Rangana Herath.
After McCullum departed, the BLACKCAPS lost their momentum in the middle order. They got it back with some pinch hitting from Anderson at the death to post a huge total.
Guptill was caught behind before Kane Williamson, who was fortunate to be dropped by wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara first ball, was undone by an outstanding catch in the deep from Karunaratne for 57.
Meanwhile Ross Taylor (14) never really got going before he was stumped the following ball to set up a hat-trick ball for Mendis.
Credit must be given to the Sri Lankan bowling unit – highlighted by Mathews, Herath and Lakmal - who delivered their best bowling effort in New Zealand conditions this summer.
Williamson provided one of the highlights of the first innings when he hit a six down the ground to set up a ‘TUI Catch in a Million’ chance; Sunjay Ganda made no mistake with a delightful one-hand effort that was the talking point among the punters.
Back out in the middle, Anderson, who was put down in the 46th over, showed all the power and brute force that is he known for in a stirring innings of 75 from only 46 balls.
The left-hander underlined his value to the BLACKCAPS batting outfit with shots that revived memories of Mark Greatbatch’s efforts in the 1992 tournament.
Luke Ronchi, the hero from Dunedin earlier this summer when he smashed 170*, was the right man for the support role as he once again showed his ability to score from ball one with 29 from 19 deliveries.
The BLACKCAPS bowling unit were tested early – as Sri Lanka got to 124 for just one wicket, but they responded.
Off-spinner Daniel Vettori (2- 34 from 10) showed the value of his experience with two key scalps. He deceived Tillakaratne Dilshan in flight for a caught and bowled and then got rid of Mahela Jayawardene caught behind.
Opening bowler Boult (2-64 from 10) was expensive in his first spell but he rallied with a fine yorker to bowl Lahiru Thirimanne and then a low full toss to claim the prized wicket of Kumar Sangakkara for a duck.
It was the defining period of the Sri Lankan chase and one where their Big Three failed to deliver.
Speedster Adam Milne toiled hard and was rewarded with the wickets of Dimuth Karunaratne (bowled), Mendis (caught behind) which signalled the beginning of the end.
He was unlucky to not get a third wicket when Nuwan Kulasekara looked to have been caught behind, but the Third Umpire adjudged that the ball did not carry to Ronchi.
In the end it didn’t matter as Anderson and Tim Southee (2) collected wickets in the slow death to finish the job.
The BLACKCAPS will now turn their focus to Tuesday where they face Scotland in their second ICC World Cup 2015 match at the University Oval in Dunedin from 11am.