Reserve day washed out too
And then there were two. Until yesterday, not a single game had been washed out in Dambulla. In two days, heavy rains forced the abandonment of the fourth ODI of the tri-series and the subsequent reserve day. It was an interesting tussle between the teams before the rains arrived in the 44th over.
Even as Scott Styris and Jacob Oram provided glimpses of that noble New Zealand tradition, dibbly-dobbly bowling, Mahela Jayawardene and Chamara Silva batted sensibly to make sure Sri Lanka didn't lose their way after a fiery-but-short-lived start from Tillakaratne Dilshan. It was an innings of three distinct parts: Dilshan led them to 61 for 1 in the first 10, only 70 runs came in the next 20 for the loss of Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara and then Jayawardene and Silva added 72 off 84 in a partnership both urgent and stable.
New Zealand went against the grain, choosing to field to let their fast bowlers exploit the overcast conditions, but they had to take the pace off to rein Dilshan and Sangakkara in. Styris and Oram bowled accurate offcutters, using the moist and slow pitch well, and went for just 34 in their first 12 overs. The batsmen, during that period, stayed away from taking risks against them.
When New Zealand did provide pace, though, Dilshan cut, pulled and slashed Kyle Mills and Daryl Tuffey with aplomb. There was some movement on offer, but Dilshan hit them both hard, on either side of the wicket. Mills was handed an especially raw treatment, going for five fours in five balls, two of them pulls and three forced away through the off side. The last of those hits took Dilshan to 36 off 20, but he was allowed to score only eight runs off the next 31 balls he faced, thanks to Styris and Oram. The 32nd was an offcutter that stayed low, and crashed into the stumps.
The edginess with Dilshan was obvious, with a tendency to leave stumps exposed when looking for room. Sangakkara and Jayawardene, though, looked less perturbed, content to work the singles. From the 27th over onwards, by which time both the batsmen were duly settled in, conscious efforts were made to target the other bowlers. A six and two fours came in two overs, but Styris came back to remove Sangakkara with an offcutter that bounced viciously.
Silva, making a comeback to the team, attacked in a measured manner. Jayawardene, who had reached 29 off 45 without having taken a single risk, was a good partner to be batting with. Silva started with two driven boundaries, one down the ground, another through extra cover. Jayawardene joined in, glancing one off the pads. The field spread and the singles were not easy to take. Soon it was time to ask for the batting Powerplay, taken in the 43rd over, and soon Jayawardene brought up his fifty with back-to-back boundaries off Nathan McCullum. From 20 off 39, Jayawardene had moved to 59 off 72 when the skies opened up for long enough to make sure no more play was possible.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo