Bowlers deliver series win for Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka 131 for 3 (Chandimal 43, Sangakkara 42*) beat New Zealand 131 for 8 (B McCullum 30, Mendis 3-15) by seven wickets (D/L method)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Rain made an appearance for the fifth game in a row on this tour but that didn't prevent Sri Lanka from taking an unassailable 3-0 lead in the ODI series. In another truncated fixture, Sri Lanka's bowlers gave New Zealand a tough time in conditions helpful for bowling and their batsmen approached the task of chasing down 131 in 32 overs positively. In what turned out to be a comfortable victory, Jeevan Mendis stood out for his triple-strike in a space of five deliveries that hurt New Zealand's prospects at a time when they were seeking to lend some stability to their innings.New Zealand suffered their tenth defeat in 11 completed ODIs since February this year.
Heavy rain delayed the start of play by two and a half hours after Sri Lanka had chosen to bowl. It returned in the 30th over of the New Zealand innings, resulting in another long interruption but, in the interim, Sri Lanka had inflicted enough damage to ensure a relatively easy chase.
Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara gave Rob Nicol a tough time once the game got underway. Malinga troubled him with the away-going delivery and Kulasekara moved it both ways. Nicol was tentative against deliveries that were slightly short of a length and was dismissed when he charged out to clear mid-on but failed, as he had done in previous attempts as well.
BJ Watling built a promising stand with Brendon McCullum. The scoring wasn't brisk but both cashed in on the odd occasion that the Sri Lankan bowlers erred in length, dispatching short deliveries through point and cover. McCullum even launched Rangana Herath over long-off for six but just as New Zealand were looking settled, they lost Watling to a run-out as he hesitated while responding to a second run.
There was good bounce for the seamers and the movement off the pitch was encouraging throughout the day. Ross Taylor was visibly livid after he nicked a wide one from Thisara Perera to the keeper and it triggered a phase of stagnation in the innings which was to prove costly. After Taylor's wicket, McCullum managed just two runs off Herath's next 12 deliveries. The frustration was evident when he tried to swing Herath out of the ground off the 13th, but found long-on.
Williamson played some attractive punches off the back foot and got a partnership going with James Franklin, but it lasted just 32 runs. Both had scored runs off Mendis, driving him down the ground for singles but his variation pegged New Zealand further back. Williamson was beaten in flight and bowled off a googly as he tried to drive, and Nathan McCullum fell next ball in the 28th over, dismissed in an almost identical manner. Mendis' third victim, Andrew Ellis, was trapped in front against a straight ball as he tried to sweep. It had been drizzling since the time Mendis first struck and the umpires called for the covers when the rain grew a little heavier. It left Franklin arguing with Ian Gould, just ahead of what was to be a delay of a further hour and a half. When New Zealand came out to bat again, with the game reduced to 32 overs, they had too little time to push for a desirable score.
With the ball moving around, Upul Tharanga and Dinesh Chandimal had their insecure moments against Trent Boult and Tim Southee. It took 23 deliveries for the first boundary to arrive, but once Tharanga smacked Southee over midwicket, the chase acquired a momentum that was only briefly interrupted by his dismissal. He departed after displaying some excellent timing, cutting and punching through point, before Chandimal and Kumar Sangakkara took over.
Opening the batting for the first time in an ODI, Chandimal initially struggled to middle the ball but there was an adequate dose of off-target deliveries that helped him get going. He picked off a boundary through fine leg, scored a four off a misfield at deep point and drilled Nathan McCullum twice down the ground. Sangakkara was more fluent at the other end, scoring at greater ease, even unfurling his favourite extra-cover drive on one knee and pulling a six over deep square leg, to guide his team to victory in this rain-marred series.
Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo