CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: A boundary laden 65 by Brendon McCullum set the World Cup alight as New Zealand posted 331-6 batting first in the tournament opener against Sri Lanka at Hagley Oval on Saturday.
New Zealand, sent into bat after losing the toss, made a flying start with McCullum and Martin Guptill providing the fireworks in chilly conditions as they cracked 111 off 95 deliveries for the first wicket.
McCullum was at his destructive best in his 49-ball stay. He smacked one six and 10 fours, including three boundaries off the first four balls he faced, to the delight of the partisan New Zealand crowd.
Big hitting Corey Anderson added 75 in a late onslaught, Kane Williamson chimed in with 57, the 13th time he has bettered the half-century mark in 17 innings over the past year, and Guptill added 49.
Sri Lanka was not their own highlights with Jeevan Mendis dismissing Williamson and Ross Taylor with successive balls before Anderson avoided the hattrick.
On a grey Christchurch day, where a brief shower delayed the start of play by eight minutes and the temperature hovered around 13 degrees Celsius, the Sri Lankans were rarely able to stand still long enough to feel the chill.
McCullum was particularly harsh on Sri Lanka’s bowling ace Lasith Malinga who was quickly removed from the attack when McCullum peppered the boundary for a lusty 22 off his fourth over.
By the time McCullum was eventually out caught on the long-off boundary by a leaping Mendis to give Rangana Herath the honour of taking the first wicket New Zealand were well set.
Williamson was nearly gone first ball when he edged Suranga Lakmal only for wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara to spill the difficult chance.
Lakmal was to be rewarded a few overs later when he found the edge of Guptill’s bat and that time Sangakkara was able to get both hands to the ball to complete the dismissal.
Williamson was removed by an outstanding catch by Dimuth Karunaratne sprinting around the boundary and Taylor was stumped by Sangakkara for 14 off the next ball.
At 196-4 and with 15 overs remaining Anderson upped the tempo for New Zealand with his 75 off 46 deliveries before he was out on the last ball of the innings.
He added 65 with Grant Elliott (29) for the fifth wicket and 73 with Luke Ronchi (29 not out) for the sixth wicket.
For Sri Lanka, the rarely used Mendis took two for five off his two overs while Lakmal finished with two for 62.
Malinga, who struggled with line and length, ended with figures of none for 84. He did bowl Ronchi on 16 but the delivery was a no ball.