New Zealand wrap up series

Christchurch, January 3:

Nathan Astle shrugged off the blues that have dogged him in recent innings to score an unbeaten 90 on Tuesday, giving New Zealand a five-wicket win over Sri Lanka and an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match one-day series.

Set 256 to win, New Zealand started at a rollicking seven runs an over but the pace slowed following the dismissal of opener Lou Vincent. In a dramatic closing stanza, New Zealand started the 46th over requiring a run-a-ball and with rain falling.

The umpires allowed play to continue. Astle scored the winning runs off the last ball of an 48th over in which Chaminda Vaas gave away three extras — including a no-ball which bowled Astle, who hit the next ball for six. Astle’s 125-ball 90 included seven fours and one six. Put into bat, Sri Lanka scored 255/7 with the innings anchored by a century from Upul Tharanga. He also figured in a 109-run second wicket partnership with Kumar Sangakkara (36). Atapattu contributed a rapid 46-ball 52.

But Vincent had other ideas, cracking 46 off 44 balls before being dismissed in the 12th over with the score on 71. Vincent relished the Sri Lankans’ inability to get movement through the air and cracked seven fours and a six. Astle then took over the senior role. Peter Fulton was out for 32 in the 30th over, while Scott Styris hit a quick 31. Chris Cairns set the tone for the closing stages when he hit Muttiah Muralitharan out of the ground and then left Astle to hit the winning runs off Vaas.