Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
The three-match ODI series ended as a 1-1 draw
Sri Lanka escaped with a 36-run win against New Zealand in the third ODI in Dambulla due to heavy rain and bad light.
New Zealand were prevented from winning the series 2-0 when their late charge was quelled due to bad light.
With heavy rain having fallen just before the start of the match, the umpires decided to reduce the game down to 43 overs.
New Zealand stand-in captain Kyle Mills won the toss and elected to field first due to the wet conditions.
However, he would have been pondering over whether he made the right decision as Sri Lanka’s opening pair of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene registered a brilliant 91-run partnership before Jayawardene attempted a paddle sweep, which ended up going straight up in the air and falling safely in the hands of wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi.
Jayawardene’s solid knock of 46 came off 46 balls and included eight boundaries.
Just two balls after dismissing Jayawardene, Nathan McCullum clean bowled Kumar Sangakkara for a duck.
Dilshan brought up his half-century, but failed to convert it into a bigger score as he got a thick edge when attempting to drive a delivery from Mitchell McClenaghan.
Dilshan’s outstanding innings of 53 came off 50 deliveries and included eight boundaries.
Disaster struck the very next ball as Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews dabbled at a ball outside his off-stump and only succeeded in nicking it to Ronchi behind the stumps.
With Sri Lanka reeling from four quick strikes, the rain saved them as play was stopped for 90 minutes, upon where the umpires decided to reduce the game down to 33 overs a side.
However, the rain did not seem to do Sri Lanka any good as Lahiru Thirimanne misread a slower delivery from Mills and ended up spooning an easy catch to Tom Latham at mid-off.
Things went from bad to worse in the next over as Dinesh Chandimal was given out lbw off the bowling of James Neesham for 15.
Some late entertainment from Sachithra Senanayake, who smashed 21 runs, and Rangana Herath, who hammered 17 runs, ensured Sri Lanka posted a decent total of 211 at the end of their 33 overs.
McCullum, Neesham and McCullum all picked up two wickets apiece, while Mills and Andrew Ellis chipped in with one wicket each.
Due to the rain delays earlier on, New Zealand needed 216 to win off 33 overs.
However, they got off to a terrible start as opening batsman Anton Devcich was caught at mid-on off the bowling of Nuwan Kulasekara for only five runs when attempting to clear the infield.
Latham was the next man to depart as he was given out lbw off the bowling of Senanayake for just nine runs.
Grant Elliott was on his way back to the pavilion just two overs later after inside edging the ball onto his stumps when attempting a cut shot off the bowling of Herath.
Munro was deceived by a quicker ball from Senanayake and was sent packing for only one run.
Rob Nicol fared no better as he was completely bamboozled by a delivery from Herath, which gave Sangakkara an ample amount of time to whip the bails off and complete the stumping.
Ronchi managed a score a quickfire 23 before Senaayake took a stunning catch at point to dismiss him.
With New Zealand struggling at 63/6, McCullum and Neesham came to the rescue with a fantastic unbeaten 63-run partnership before the umpires decided to stop play due to bad light.
With the light looking highly unlikely to improve, the umpires had no choice but to call the game off, giving Sri Lanka a 36-run win via the Duckworth-Lewis method.
Herath was the most successful Sri Lankan bowler with three wickets, while Senanayake snapped up two and Kulasekara chipped in with one.
Senanayake was named Man of the Match for his all-round performance.
“Its my first experience winning the man of the match,” he said. “We’re playing a game here after three years and I’ve enjoyed myself a lot. I’ve played a lots of domestic matches and with so many experience players, talking to me, it worked out. The wicket turned a bit which we didn’t expect at the start of the game and we did well to use that.”
Dilshan picked up the Man of the Series award for scoring 189 runs in three ODIs at an incredible average of 94.50.