Christchurch, New Zealand: Brendon McCullum lashed a half century from 19 balls, matching his national record, to spur New Zealand to a three-wicket win over Sri Lanka Sunday in the series-opening limited-overs international.
Opening the batting, McCullum gave New Zealand a blazing start as it chased Sri Lanka's 218-9, hitting three sixes and six fours. He reached his 50 with a six from spinner Sachithra Senanayake and was out three balls later, stumped by Kumar Sangakkara.
New Zealand quickly lost middle-order wickets before allrounder Corey Anderson scored 81 to propel the home team toward its winning target in 43 overs.
Earlier, Mahela Jaywardene scored a masterly 104 to lead Sri Lanka as it batted after winning the toss.
McCullum's innings was more remarkable because it came after his opening partner, Martin Guptill, was dismissed from the third ball of the innings before New Zealand had scored. Rather than being inhibited by that loss, McCullum struck out, opening his scoring with a streaky four over cover point from the second ball of a second over in which he hit three boundaries.
He struck a four and a six from the last two balls of the next over, bowled by Nuwan Kulasekara, then greeted Senanayake by striking his first ball over long off for six.
There were two more fours at the start of the sixth over, bowled by Angelo Mathews, and then the six that raised his half century from the first ball of the seventh over.
When he was out, New Zealand was 63-2 in the seventh over.
McCullum's innings might have seemed reckless but it sent another warning of his ability to New Zealand's opponents and the coming World Cup. New Zealand and Sri Lanka will be meeting in the opening match of the World Cup on the same ground on Feb. 14.
"Firstly, I thought it was a really good performance from us," McCullum said. "With the ball I thought we were outstanding and in the field we were outstanding.
"With the bat we made ourselves have to fight pretty hard but we saw some good character come through and I thought Corey under pressure really stepped up today."
McCullum's dismissal provoked a mini collapse in which four wickets fell for 38 runs before Anderson and Luke Ronchi (17) settled things down with a 48-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
Jayawardene made his 18th ODI century as the only Sri Lanka batsman to look comfortable against New Zealand's tight bowling and disciplined fielding. He put on 73 for the fifth wicket with Lahiru Thirimanne to revive Sri Lanka's innings after it had been 82-4 on the fall of captain Angelo Mathews, who chose to bat after winning the toss.
Jayawardene fell during the 47th over in which Mitchell McClenaghan (4-36) took three wickets.