New Zealand won the 1st T20I by 3 runs

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 06:14 GMT, Jan 7, 2016 |

With overs from their frontline bowlers exhausted, New Zealand were forced to turn to Grant Elliott’s gentle seamers to defend 13 runs from the last over in the first T20I against Sri Lanka in Mount Maunganui. Elliott proved himself as nerveless with ball in hand, as he had been with the bat during last year’s World Cup.

He took one wicket – which was followed by a run-out – and conceded only nine runs with his mixture of yorkers and slower balls. Chasing New Zealand’s 182 for 4, Sri Lanka fell three short to record their sixth loss in eight matches this tour.

The road to this tight triumph had first been paved by Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson, who struck rapid half-centuries in a 101-run opening stand. Colin Munro, and then Ross Taylor hit brief but explosive innings, before New Zealand’s quicks gave their side an even better start with the ball than the one with the bat.

Sri Lanka’s chase seemed to have run aground at 42 for 4 at the end of the fifth over, before Milinda Siriwardana and Danushka Gunathilaka resurrected it. Their 40s were ultimately futile. Matt Henry and Trent Boult took three wickets apiece before Elliott’s over extinguished the resurgence.

Boult was first to strike, finding success with that line outside leg stump that has been strangely productive for New Zealand all through the tour. Tillakaratne Dilshan edged the ball behind his legs to the wicket keeper first ball, before Shehan Jayasuriya fell in similar fashion in Boult’s next over.

At the other end, Matt Henry had Dinesh Chandimal top-edging a heave across the line, and Angelo Mathews slapping uppishly to cover. Both bowlers would return to strike a further vital blow apiece in the final overs.

Boult had Siriwardana caught for a typically shrewd 42 from 31 balls, at fine leg, in the 17th over. Henry had Perera holing out to long on for 28 from 19 balls.