New Zealand were reeling at 15 for three in the encounter before Phillips (104 off 64) shared an 84-run stand with Daryl Mitchell (22 off 24) to stabilize the innings.
Scorecard | As it happened | Points Table
The 25-year-old, who was dropped twice, including early in his innings, played some sensational knocks en route to his second T20 century. His knock consisted of four sixes and 10 boundaries.
Sri Lanka also lost early wickets but, unlike New Zealand, could not recover from that to finish at 102 all out in 19.2 overs.
Trent Boult did the maximum damage with the new ball, finishing with career-best figures of four for 13 in four overs.
It was New Zealand’s second win in three matches, with their previous game against Afghanistan being a complete washout. The semi-finals are getting a lot tougher for Asia Cup champions Sri Lanka, who suffered their second defeat in three matches.
The game was all but over with Sri Lanka slipping to 24 for five in the seventh over.
The veteran pace duo of Boult and Tim Southee ran through Sri Lanka’s top order with the former picking up three wickets in his opening spell. Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santer (2/21) and Ish Sodhi (2/21) also chipped in with a couple of wickets.
Apart from Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s breezy 34 off 22 balls, none of the Sri Lankan batsmen could get going against a formidable Kiwi attack.
The captain Dasun Shanaka (35 from 32), who bailed his team out of difficult situations, could not do it on Saturday.
It was New Zealand’s first game since their win over Australia a week ago, but it didn’t take long for them to function at their optimum best.
A big win for New Zealand to raise their net run rate 😍#T20WorldCup | #NZvSL | 📝: https://t.co/3GQdDyf5Yz https://t.co/uBrTZPwEq6
— T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) 1667043146000
Earlier, Phillips batted flat at forehand shots from both the spinners and pacers in his memorable innings. His first six off Chamika Karunaratne, a pick-up that flew over long-leg, gave him the confidence to go ballistic and lift the team off a difficult start.
Phillips reached the three-figure mark with a mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana, leading the combative batsman to roaring celebrations.
Theekshana, who impressed with the new ball, was short in the death overs and Phillips took full advantage. The New Zealander hit him for two consecutive sixes in the 18th over which went for 16.
The last five overs yielded 67 runs for New Zealand. Sri Lanka’s catching and ground fielding on the day left a lot to be desired.
The only positive for Sri Lanka was their performance in the first six overs in which they removed the dangerous Finn Allen, Devon Conway and New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.
Theekshana removed Finn with an inswinger, quite unusual for a spinner, that was too close to cut. Williamson was caught behind as he tried to drive the wide ball from pacer Kasun Rajitha.