Sri Lanka beat New Zealand by 37 runs in their third T20I, a consolation victory in their three match series.
With the destination of the series already decided, both sides used the opportunity to make some changes to their line-ups for the final game in Kandy. The home side brought in Danushka Gunathilaka and Lahiru Madushanka for Kusal Mendis and Shehan Jayasuriya whilst, for their part, the Kiwis opted for Hamish Rutherford, Ross Taylor and Todd Astle, for Martin Guptill, Tom Bruce, and Ish Sodhi.
For the third time in the series Sri Lanka won the toss and, for the third time, they chose to bat first. They got off to a reasonable start with Gunathilaka and Kusal Perera put on 30 for the first wicket, but then stumbled when both Perera and Avishka Fernando fell in short order, Perera caught by Astle off Mitchell Santner, and Fernando bowled by Astle himself. Gunathilaka was the next to go, bowled by Astle, top-scoring with 30.
Niroshan Dickwella and Madushanka added 27, but Dickwella was caught off Santner for 24. Madushanka made 20 before he became Astle’s third victim, but by this time, the Sri Lanka tail were struggling to score, with danger man Isuru Udana run out for just 2. Wanindu Hasanranga was unbeaten on 14, but the home side’s final total of 125 – 8 never looked like being enough.
That, though, was to reckon without the veteran Lasith Malinga, playing in his last T20I, who took four wickets in four balls in his second over. First he bowled Colin Munro for 12, and then he had Rutherford lbw for a duck. Colin de Grandhomme was bowled to give him his hat-trick, and then Ross Taylor was lbw next ball. Tim Seiffert at the other end, just had to watch the carnage unfolding in front of him. However, he soon became Malinga’s next victim as he departed, caught by Gunathilaka.
Daryl Mitchell and Santner added 23, but then there was another flurry of wickets. First Mitchell was run out, and then, next ball, Scott Kuggeleijn was bowled by Akila Danajaya. Two balls later, Santner, having made 16, was stumped off the same bowler, and then Astle was lbw to Hasaranga.
With 9 wickets down the last wicket pair of Seth Rance and Southee had nothing to lose, and they began to attack, with Southee in particular opening his shoulders. However, Lakshan Sandakan put an end to proceedings as he had Rance lbw for 8, leaving Southee, who had hit 3 sixes, unbeaten on 26.
New Zealand had been bowled out for 88, with man of the match Malinga fittingly ending his T20I career with 5 wickets for the loss of just four runs.