Former Western Australia keeper-batsman Luke Ronchi has underlined his reputation as one of the best closers in ODI cricket – and his importance to New Zealand’s World Cup campaign – by guiding the Black Caps to an outstanding four-wicket win in the fourth one-day clash with Sri Lanka in Nelson.
The 33-year-old Ronchi, who played four ODI matches for Australia in 2008, was the Kiwis’ last real hope as they faced an equation of 25 runs from 18 balls to chase down the tourists’ 276.
He stepped up big-time.
Ronchi hit the first ball of the 48th over for four, then plundered the next for six. After scurrying through for two runs and enduring a dot ball, he hammered back-to-back sixes to level the scores.
That’s 24 runs from the over – a remarkable display of clutch batting.
After Ronchi’s brilliant 32 from 15 balls, Daniel Vettori iced the win with a boundary off the first ball of the next over. Earlier, Kane Williamson continued his stellar form, tying the Black Caps’ innings together with 103 from 107 balls, while middle order pair Grant Elliott (44) and Corey Anderson (47) made timely contributions.
It was a victory that holds the much-hyped Black Caps in good stead for the high-pressure World Cup matches ahead. They lead the seven-match series 2-1 after the third clash was rained out.
Despite the loss, Sri Lanka highlighted why they are still a major threat in the tournament, with top-class trio Dilshan (44), Sangakarra (76) and Jayawardene (94) all starring before a lower order collapse.
View from 21:50 to watch Ronchi’s late heroics: