JOHANNESBURG, September 27, 2009 (AFP) – Brave opener Jesse Ryder struck 74 runs to set up New Zealand for a 38-run win over Sri Lanka at the Wanderers Sunday that kept alive hopes of an ICC Champions Trophy semi-finals place. Ryder had to use a runner as he battled a hamstring injury and his 125-run opening stand with Brendon McCullum was the perfect tonic for the Black Caps who would have been eliminated had they lost.
Now victory over England at the same venue Tuesday will guarantee the Kiwis, winners of the second edition of the Champions Trophy in Kenya nine years ago, a place in the knockout phase.
New Zealand overcame a mid-innings blip that saw five wickets fall cheaply to reach 315-7 off 50 overs with Martin Guptill (66), skipper Daniel Vettori (48) and McCullum (46) other significant contributors.
Sri Lanka were all out for 277 off 46.4 overs in reply with the big early stands they needed never materialising and it was left to Mahela Jayawardene (77) to keep hopes flickering until he became the seventh wicket to fall.
Nuwan Kulasekara, ranked among the top fast bowlers in the world, proved he is no slouch with the bat either, hitting an unbeaten 57 off 56 balls, including four sixes and two f