ICC World Twenty20, Guyana: New Zealand 139-8 (19.5 overs) beat Sri Lanka 135-6 (20 overs) by two wickets
Nathan McCullum celebrates after seeing the Kiwis home with one ball to spare
Nathan McCullum was New Zealand's hero with a six off the penultimate delivery as they beat Sri Lanka in the opening game of the ICC World Twenty20.
Sri Lanka's 135-6 in Guyana was constructed around a brilliant 81 from 51 balls by Mahela Jayawardene.
Jesse Ryder hit 42 from 27 balls as the Kiwis started the chase brightly but they lost their way mid-innings.
Jacob Oram revived them with two sixes, and McCullum's blow off Lasith Malinga saw them home by two wickets.
"We put ourselves under pressure with the way we batted in the middle (of our innings) but Jacob Oram and McCullum rescued us in the end," said skipper Daniel Vettori, who ran himself out in the final over to give McCullum the strike.
"I can't hit them. It was easier for Nathan to do it and his six was pretty amazing."
It was an absorbing start to the Caribbean tournament, and provided an exciting conclusion to match those in both the 2007 and 2009 World Twenty20 openers.
And McCullum, ostensibly picked as a spinner - he bowled three overs of tidy off-spin, taking 1-17 - had ended up with 16 match-winning runs off just six balls faced.
With the threat of low scores on slow wickets widely advertised, particularly in Guyana, Sri Lanka's total always looked a notch or two better than it did on paper.
Jayawardene produced easily the best innings of the match
They made sluggish progress after a bright start to their innings - with Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara managing a combined seven runs from 30 balls faced.
Fortunately for them, Jayawardene was anything but becalmed at the other end, launching Shane Bond for a nonchalant six over deep square leg in the paceman's first over, and two boundaries in his second.
Dilshan and Sangakkara were each bowled attempting manufactured across-the-line heaves, and that left Sri Lanka with problems at 44-2 in the ninth over.
But the 20-year-old debutant Dinesh Chandimal finally gave Jayawardene the support he needed, and gaining confidence from a fine straight six off Scott Styris, the young right-hander helped the former skipper add 59 off 44 balls.
Chandimal eventually fell to an outstanding catch by Ross Taylor, who held a catch on the long-on boundary after initially jumping up to knock the ball down as it threatened to disappear for six.
Jayawardene continued to hit some sweet shots for a while, but was one of three men to fall in a disappointing final three overs for Sri Lanka which produced just 17 runs.
One of those was peppered with near-perfect yorkers from Tim Southee, the most economical New Zealand bowler with figures of 1-21.
Sri Lanka looked in the mood to defend their score when Angelo Mathews opened with a wicket maiden, in which Brendon McCullum mis-hit a pull to midwicket.
But Ryder, back from frustrating injuries, played a typically muscular innings and scored his runs so quickly that New Zealand soon looked warm favourites.
In an attempt to show he could play deft shots as well, he missed an attempted late cut to be bowled by Muttiah Muralitharan - and the game fluctuated once again.
Sanath Jayasuriya, who did not face a ball, became a specialist bowler for the day, sending down four overs costing just 17 runs - and he yorked Martin Guptill into the bargain.
Things were getting tough for the New Zealand middle order, and Taylor carried over his Indian Premier League struggles when he slog-swept Muralitharan to deep midwicket.
Hopes were finally raised when consecutive sixes by Oram off Ajantha Mendis left him and Daniel Vettori needing 26 from the last three overs.
With Lasith Malinga's low-slung exocets largely on target, and Chanaka Welegedara bowling Oram in the 19th over, 10 were still wanted from the final over.
Malinga bowled it, and after singles came off each of the first two balls McCullum, facing only his third ball in all, somehow swung a low attempted yorker behind deep square-leg for four.
Vettori was run out from the next ball, but with New Zealand attempting a second run McCullum was crucially put back on strike.
His next shot was a drilled, flat six over long-off which decided the match in stunning fashion.
Having reached the final against Pakistan last year, the result was a disappointment for Sri Lanka skipper Sangakkara.
"We fell about 10-12 runs short. Mahela batted well with Chandimal but we need to convert good starts into good totals and improve our fielding," he said.