- Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 2nd ODI, Pallekele
Sri Lanka take rain-hit one-dayer
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
It had already caused a washout and a no-result. It was highly probable that the rain which has been following this series would soon force a result under the Duckworth-Lewis method. That is what happened tonight when the second ODI of the five-match series was decided in favour of the hosts 22.5 overs into Sri Lanka's chase. New Zealand, who have now lost eight of their previous nine ODIs, had reason to feel a touch aggrieved, having taken Tillakaratne Dilshan's wicket a few overs back to break a growing partnership with Mahela Jayawardene. Sri Lanka were still 133 runs adrift of the target of 251, but in the final count, they had stayed comfortably ahead of the D/L mark of 104.
It meant New Zealand's highest ODI score against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, achieved on the back of a late charge by Ross Taylor, was in vain. In the first ODI played under the latest revised conditions, which allow only four fielders outside the inner circle in non-Powerplay overs, New Zealand had batted the old-fashioned way, preserving wickets for a final push.
That wasn't the way Sri Lanka approached the chase. Clouds had been around since shortly after the match started under bright conditions, and rain had already caused almost an hour's delay seven overs into the chase. Jayawardene said Sri Lanka's plan had been to do enough to stay ahead of the par score.
Upul Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara fell attempting aggressive strokes but Jayawardene and Dilshan weathered sharp spells from Trent Boult and Tim Southee to put on what turned out to be a match-winning 59-run stand. With the ball coming on better on a slow pitch after the rain interruption, both batsmen ensured Sri Lanka had enough momentum to remain ahead of the requirement. Jayawardene, especially, was in fine touch, and played attractive shots either side of the wicket.
BJ Watling and Rob Nicol had been anything but attractive earlier but had provided Taylor the base to set Sri Lanka a decent target. Had Taylor not fallen early in the 46th over on 72 off 62 to a sharp catch by Angelo Mathews - after being put down three deliveries before by Tharanga - New Zealand could have added a few more late runs. Taylor had found his range at the death after being denied in the batting Powerplay by a succession of short deliveries from Lasith Malinga.
The batting Powerplay produced only 31 runs but after that, Taylor targetted the medium-pace and good lengths of Thisara Perera and Nuwan Kulasekara to swing sixes over his favoured midwicket region. With only four men in the deep instead of five earlier, there were more gaps available and it was difficult for Jayawardene to plug areas such as deep midwicket.
New Zealand had made a slow start. Missing the injured Brendon McCullum, they managed just three boundaries in the first Powerplay. They also lost just one wicket, that of Tom Latham, but Nicol and Watling were not finding it easy to score against a varied Sri Lanka attack on a pitch dried out by a couple of sunny days following incessant rain.
Nicol and Watling were given some breathing space as Jayawardene brought on the allrounders Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera after the first Powerplay, which yielded just 28.
The spinners, Rangana Herath and Jeevan Mendis, presented a different challenge on the helpful surface. Watling attacked the spinners after a few overs, slogging and pulling both for fours through the leg side. While Nicol edged Perera behind four runs shy of a fifty, Nicol carried on to his half-century but fell just before the start of the batting Powerplay when Jayawardene took a diving catch at midwicket.
Taylor and James Franklin could not capitalise on the Powerplay, but with the latter supporting him, Taylor ensured Sri Lanka had a substantial target. The rain, however, had other plans.