New Zealand delivered on the hype with a crushing 97-run win over Sri Lanka to open the Cricket World Cup in Christchurch.
The tournament co-hosts unfurled a consummate team performance with bat and ball, racing to 6-331 before dismissing Sri Lanka for 234 with 3.5 overs to spare.
New Zealand have been rated among the favourites to win the 14-nation tournament and did little to quell that sentiment in the first game, played in wintry conditions at Hagley Oval.
Brendon McCullum responded to being asked to bat by sending three of his first four balls faced to the fence, ensuring the Black Caps grabbed an initiative they weren’t to relinquish.
The captain’s 65 off 49 balls warmed the crowd of 17,228 while opening partner Martin Guptill (49) and Kane Williamson (57) helped lay a platform for some late fireworks.
Allrounder Corey Anderson’s 46-ball 75 was supported by a pair of 29s from Grant Elliott and Luke Ronchi as they piled on 102 off the last 10 overs.
Sri Lanka faced an uphill battle to extend their five-game winning streak over New Zealand at World Cups.
Their hopes nosedived when they lost three key wickets in the space of 12 balls at a pivotal point.
Top-scoring opener Lahiru Thirimanne (65 off 60 balls) was bowled by Trent Boult (2-64) before Mahela Jayawardene snicked a rising ball from miserly spinner Daniel Vettori (2-34) without scoring.
Boult trapped Kumar Sangakkara for 39 and the game then meandered through the next 23 overs, with the result never in doubt.
Captain Angelo Mathews cruised to 46 but he was left to reflect on an untidy team performance, particularly in the field, reliving some of the problems exposed during their 4-2 series loss to New Zealand last month.
Pace bowler Lasith Malinga (0-84) struggled for control in his first ODI since undergoing ankle surgery nearly six months ago. He was bludgeoned for 23 runs by McCullum in his fourth over.
The Black Caps’ bowlers all extracted more life from the pitch than their opposites.
Speedster Adam Milne, selected for the contentious third seamer spot ahead of Kyle Mills and Mitchell McClenaghan, took 2-57 while Tim Southee (2-43) was the pick of the pacemen.
New Zealand’s second pool game is against Scotland in Dunedin on Tuesday before Sri Lanka play Zimbabwe at the same venue five days later.