Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 3rd ODI, Dambulla November 16, 2013

Bad light gives Sri Lanka win, series squared


Sri Lanka 211 for 8 (Dilshan 53, Jayawardene 46) beat New Zealand 126 for 6 (Neesham 42*, Herath 3-25) by 36 runs (D/L method)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Fading light cut New Zealand's feisty middle-order short in Dambulla, as they pursued an unlikely 90 runs from the last eight overs with four wickets in hand. Their top order had earlier been bundled up by Rangana Herath and Sachithra Senanayake, who were finally given the chance to expose the visitors' weakness against quality slow bowling. New Zealand were chasing 216 in 33 overs, and though Nathan McCullum and James Neesham had earned valuable momentum in their rapid 63-run stand, the teams left the field when dusk set in, and Sri Lanka were adjudged winners by 36 runs.

The match had initially been trimmed to 43-overs-a-side, before more rainfall halfway through Sri Lanka's innings abbreviated it further. The scheduled 6pm finish, though, was wildly ambitious for a venue lacking adequate lighting, at this time of year. If light-meters had been the final word on play, the match might have stopped around New Zealand's 21st over, but the umpires allowed the game to continue until they deemed it unsafe. Sri Lanka implored the officials to call it a day knowing they were ahead, and when it grew desperately dark, they eventually won out over New Zealand's protests.

Tom Latham was the first to fall to Senanayake, missing an offbreak that would have hit middle and leg, in the bowler's fourth over. Rangana Herath then arrived while the Powerplay was still in place and removed Grant Elliott, off an inside edge. Senanayake did Colin Munro in with a doosra, and by the time Herath picked up an out-of-sorts Rob Nicol, New Zealand had sunk to 26 for 5 in the 11th over. Luke Ronchi then made 23, but gave Herath his third scalp, before Neesham and McCullum joined forces.

The pair whacked 51 off the last four overs of their stand, though perhaps Sri Lanka were only one wicket away from breaking their momentum and securing the match. Thisara Perara had the chance to finish the more belligerent McCullum off, but spilled a sitter off Lasith Malinga at deep square leg, though perhaps the gloom contributed to the error.

Senanayake and Herath had been heroes with the bat too, as they plundered 27 from the last 11 balls, to lift Sri Lanka from a modest score to a middling 211 for 8. Rangana Herath struck four earnest, but unquestionably comical boundaries in his seven-ball stay, while Senanayake smeared an unbeaten 21 from his 14 balls.

That ninth wicket stand had helped pick up some of the middle order's slack, after they had not provided sustained resistance, following a top-order stutter. Sri Lanka had been at 90 for no loss in the 15th over before losing four wickets in 23 balls.

New Zealand's gains came during two overs - one belonging to McCullum and the other Mitchell McCleneghan. McCullum removed the flying Mahela Jayawardene and the in-form Kumar Sangakkara within the space of three deliveries, before three overs later, McClenaghan had Tillakaratne Dilshan and Angelo Mathews caught behind off successive balls.

Dilshan had eased into his most fluent innings of the series, which ironically was also his briefest. Full swinging balls from the quick men were stroked cleanly - often along the ground - to the boundary, on either side of the wicket. In the fifth over, Kyle Mills was whipped through cover twice and midwicket once, off consecutive balls.

Jayawardene had a mild start in comparison, after being pushed up to open, thanks to Dimuth Karunaratne's omission, but he soon caught up when the spinners arrived, and was playing sublimely when he was a victim of his own ambition, trying to scoop McCullum's second ball.

Thirimanne and Chandimal had earlier begun with a rare opportunity to construct an innings - a task well-suited to their accumulative abilities - but when the rain abbreviated the match further, they were forced to be finishers again - a task at which they failed once more. Thirimanne lobbed a Mills offcutter to mid-off, and Chandimal was trapped in front soon after by James Neesham.

Mills and Neesham extended a canny stretch of bowling replete with slower ones, cutters and at-the-body short deliveries for a few overs, dismissing Thisara Perera and Nuwan Kulasekara between them, until Herath and Senanayake produced their cameo - though 18 of their runs came in Andrew Ellis' final over.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Eranga on November 18, 2013, 6:37 GMT

    for all kiwi supporters. Sorry if any SL supporter offended u guys as most sri lankan fans Love the NZ team and we respect the great fans for being gentlemen always. I too belive that if the light was not dipping we might have had a close contest. Who would've won? well, no one knows.

    For all SL fans. Nathan McCullum and all NZ supporters have a right to be upset as the duo were really batting well at the time and We badly needed a wicke so let's be cool here as NZ supporters have always been great and friendly towards us SriLankans.

  • ESPN on November 17, 2013, 11:11 GMT

    If the first match was played without the rain interruption. Lankans would have won it and the series will be held by lanka

  • sidh on November 17, 2013, 7:36 GMT

    very poor SL team they cant win the matches without help of umpires, rain, light, pitches against NZ`s C team.i feel for NZ played very good.for me the series was not draw but won by NZ with new team. congrates NZ.

  • Mark on November 17, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    @Blade-Runner: of course McCullum was frustrated. They were in with a chance and, as a NZ supporter, I'd be concerned if he wasn't frustrated at being denied the chance to try for the win. As for being dropped the previous over - that's completely irrelevant. Cricket has many examples of batsmen who get dropped and go on to make big, and match-winning, scores. @yohandf: Yes, there are probably a lot of us who are frustrated at the umpires decision to stop the game. How that makes us Sri Lankan haters is beyond me. It also doesn't mean we think NZ would have won. Most NZ cricket fans I know have a lot of admiration for Sri Lankan cricket. What is frustrating is that the game was shaping up for a potentially exciting finish and I'd have preferred to see it played out whatever the result. Whether its umpiring issues, scheduling issues or whatever, cricket needs is to ensure that, wherever possible, matches are played out to their conclusion rather than being unnecessarily cut short.

  • NAYANADINI on November 17, 2013, 5:43 GMT

    Very disappointing to see our test ranking. No.7. Don think we are that bad. Atleast not that bad with the run machine sanga in the team. Why are we not playing tests to improve our rankings and prove a point. We must also remember that being no.1 in t20 is a bonus but has nothing to do with talent unlike test rankings. Management should Understand this. Running behind revenue and sacrificing development is a sin

  • NAYANADINI on November 17, 2013, 5:18 GMT

    First thing i want all our fans to understand is not to expect our youngsters to become like retired legends. Our youngsters will set own standards. Statements like "next sanath, next murali" are idiotic. I feel jaya should open with dilli and sanga batting lower down. The indian youngsters were able to express them freely because they had someone reliable like dhoni to steady the ship even if they fail. Sanga can give that reliability in minds of young lads. The next thing is that we have the bad habit of over hyping an youngster even before he starts performing consistently. Thiri and chandi should be made aware that they cannot take their places for granted. Everyone should learn to value their wicket.

  • Dummy4 on November 17, 2013, 4:21 GMT

    Why SL senior player always taking chances to bat up in the order n letting younger guys tons of responsibilities which they ain't capable of. 1 st they should bat up in the order to gain more experience. Look Indian team, Dhoni take all da responsibilities batting @no6 and he gives chances to younger guys to bat up in the order to gain experiences without having lot pressure, which made classy batsmen. same thing done by Arjuna to make good batsmen like Mahela n Sanga, it's shame they ain't do the same now.

  • prasad on November 17, 2013, 3:32 GMT

    Sri Lanka have to think seriously about their batting order. when we play three seniors at top three there is a huge gap in the middle order. Matthews should bat at 6 or 7 becuse he is the finisher along with Thissara. Chandimal & thirimmana should bat at 5 & 6 there are not finishers. we must groom our youngsters like India look at them they are not depending on seniors who played in the 2011 WC where as SL still depending on senior three players.

  • Sarath on November 17, 2013, 2:31 GMT

    We may have had batters that could have come at least, little closer to the great Tendulkar (The Best Batsman of my time) but they all have gone unidentified because the persons in those responsible positions (of last 20 years or more) never ever have had the required knowledge and intelligence to pick young talent, and their thinking has always been, reckless. It was very clearly exhibited in this very match as well. If it was England's or India's management for that matter they would have sent their next generation of batters as openers while seniors were still there. At a time that Tendulkar & Dravid like World class batters were given only one T/20 Internationals each, the giving permanent places(and used as front-line batters) for seniors in the limited order format can be considered as a work of persons of unsound mind.

  • Sarath on November 17, 2013, 2:29 GMT

    # Amit Rawat #I totally agree with the last few words in your comment but I'd like to replace the word 'Country' with 'people that makes decisions'. For your information: S'nayake, together with Ajantha,Malida Pushpakumara, DulanjanaMendis,Tharindu Khausal...have been the most consistent wkt taking, 1st Class, spinners in the Country for the last 3-6 years however these quality bowlers have been completely ignored purposely, to make way for an henchman, whom they have been trying since the retirement of Murali. At times when wkts were conducive to spin and there was distinct possibility of winning matches, with the use of two or more spinners also, they've always stuck to this particular spinner only, since they want him to take all the wkts in the match and show the World that their (J&Ps') decision of playing him (henchman) is the right thing to do, thus jeopardizing the Country's opportunity of winning many matches even at home.

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