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May 23, 2010
It wasn't quite the home-run derby that the Americans had been led to expect, but Daniel Vettori and Kumar Sangakkara hope cricket's Florida experiment will continue. The two-match Twenty20 series in Lauderhill over the weekend was drawn 1-1 but the result was of little consequence.
This series was more about the chance to gain exposure for the sport in the world's third most populous country. But the first two international cricket matches in the USA proved to be dour affairs, with a slow, low pitch and only two sixes hit in each game, and the Sri Lankan captain Sangakkara hoped the nature of the contests didn't turn American fans away.
"That's one of the subtleties of cricket, that a low-scoring game can be exciting if you analyse it properly," Sangakkara said. "The wicket wasn't conducive to big hitting but ideally it should have been a high-scoring two games, 180 to be chased down would have been great out there on a ground like this with fans watching cricket for the first time.
"For the players and the die-hard fans the excitement is the same but probably for an introduction maybe we could have had a lot more scores. The ground facilities are pretty good, there's great seating, the atmosphere is brilliant to play cricket in. You just need to keep playing cricket on tracks like this, the more you play the better the tracks become."
In the first game, New Zealand battled to 120 for 7 from their 20 overs and then dismissed Sri Lanka for 92, while in the second match New Zealand never recovered from losing four wickets in the first three overs. Their final score of 81 was New Zealand's lowest in a Twenty20 match but the captain Vettori said apart from some improvement in the pitch, there were few other problems with the Lauderhill venue.
"Most international grounds probably need those off-field facilities where you can train while the game is going on, it makes it a little bit easier," Vettori said. "There's not too much more. The standard of the wicket could improve a little bit but apart from that I think the ground has everything going for it.
"It's certainly given USA cricket a profile, and I think that's the biggest thing to come from that. Both teams really enjoyed coming here and in the future, when we talk to other players from around the world we'll tell them how good a time we had and how good the facilities are, and you'll get other teams coming along and enjoying it just as much as we did. USA cricket has come along way just from this week."
New Zealand now have a two-month break before they tour Sri Lanka for a tri-series also involving India and Vettori was hopeful of a better performance next season.
"I think all the guys are ready for it. They've been going non-stop for about nine to10 months so everyone's due a break," Vettori told NZPA. "We've got to make sure that we use this break to try and improve as a side and when we go to Sri Lanka we're ready to try and win over there."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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