A world-record partnership by centurions Luke Ronchi and Grant Elliott rescued New Zealand from an early collapse to ensure a commanding 360-5 in the fifth one-day international against Sri Lanka today.
Their 267-run stand, smacked in 30 overs at Dunedin’s University Oval, is the highest sixth-wicket partnership in ODI cricket and began when New Zealand were in dire straits at 93-5 after 20 overs.
The innings ended with Ronchi unbeaten on 170, his maiden ODI century, while Elliott was 104 not out for his second ton.
After being sent into bat on a green-tinged wicket, New Zealand’s top order fell rapidly before Elliott and Ronchi turned the mission around.
Ronchi, whose lusty hitting carried New Zealand home in the fourth ODI in Nelson on Tuesday, had nine sixes and 14 fours in his innings and faced 99 deliveries
Elliott, dropped on 47 by stand-in Sri Lanka captain Lahiru Thirimanne, faced 96 balls and hit two sixes and seven fours.
Thirimanne, promoted to lead Sri Lanka when Angelo Mathews was rested with a calf strain, won the toss and was immediately rewarded for opting to bowl with Martin Guptill caught behind first ball.
In the following over, Brendon McCullum was dropped at backward point by Tillakaratne Dilshan and New Zealand were having trouble with the ball moving sharply off the seam.
McCullum rebounded from his let-off to partner Kane Williamson in a rapid 50-run stand before his luck ran out when Kulasekara won a leg-before-wicket appeal to remove the New Zealand captain for 25.
Two overs later Williamson was back in the pavilion, caught by Sangakkara off Thisara Perera for 26 and New Zealand were 60-3.
Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott had added 20 runs when Sri Lanka struck another double blow with two wickets to Thirimanne in 11 balls.
Taylor popped a catch to Dimuth Karunaratne at mid-wicket to be gone for 20 while Corey Anderson was trapped leg-before for eight.
Ronchi then joined Elliott in the middle and rapidly took the initiative away from Sri Lanka, whose most successful bowler was Thirimanne with two for 36 while Kulasekara took two for 71.