WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Martin Guptill produced a superb diving catch to dismiss the dangerous Thisara Perera with a wicket that sparked a stunning collapse as New Zealand swept the three-match one-day series against Sri Lanka with a 115-run victory at Nelson on Tuesday.
Guptill’s fingertip catch taken above his head and at full stretch to remove the burly all-rounder for 80 came at a pivotal moment in the chase, leaving the visitors on 244 for six in the 39th over and needing 121 more runs to win.
After Perera departed, Sri Lanka surrendered meekly, with the visitors soon bowled out for 249 from 41.4 overs in response to New Zealand’s 364-4.
New Zealand’s score, the highest in the Saxton Oval’s short international lifespan, came courtesy of Henry Nicholls’ maiden one-day century and Ross Taylor’s 20th.
Taylor dominated New Zealand’s innings after Lasith Malinga had removed Guptill and Colin Munro cheaply as the hosts made a rare poor start when they slumped to 31-2.
Kane Williamson (55) and Taylor then combined for a 116-run partnership before the New Zealand captain was surprisingly caught on the midwicket fence.
Taylor took over the mantle of seeing New Zealand through and brought up his 20th one-day century as he and Nicholls added 154 runs in 20 overs before the former fell for 137.
The left-handed Nicholls, who helped New Zealand pile on 130 runs in the final 10 overs, brought up his own century with a six and finished unbeaten on 124.
Perera, who made a blistering 140 that almost carried Sri Lanka to a surprising victory in the second game at Mount Maunganui on Saturday, had looked well set to once more launch an assault on the victory target.
Guptill, however, produced arguably the catch of the series to knock the stuffing out of the Sri Lanka chase as a string of Perera’s team mates wasted little time out in the middle before returning to the pavilion.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by John O'Brien