28.3 overs Sri Lanka 123 for 8 (Tharanga 60, Southee 3-18) v New Zealand - Match abandoned
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Rain robbed New Zealand's best chance of sneaking in a win in a one-sided series, after they restricted Sri Lanka to 123 for 8 in Hambantota. The match began under sunny skies, but little over two hours after the start, rain forced the players off the field and they remained indoors till half past eight, when another downpour brought a soggy end to an ill-timed series. All six matches on tour were affected by rain, with Sri Lanka taking the one-dayers 3-0.
While Sri Lanka were the superior side in the context of the series, New Zealand would have every reason to feel let down by the weather in this game. For a change they found a way to express themselves and it came via their seamers to put the hosts under early pressure. After opting to bowl first in conditions expected to suit the fast bowlers, Tim Southee, Adam Milne and Trent Boult utilised the swing to their advantage to nip out early wickets. Upul Tharanga played the lone hand as the rest failed to stick around to build partnerships.
It all started with Southee's peach which swung away late and hit the off stump before Dinesh Chandimal could get his bat down. That was enough to convince the bowlers that the fuller length was the order of the day. The wicketkeeper and the slips had to stay alert, as BJ Watling found out when he failed to hang on to a touch chance off Lahiru Thirimanne when he was on 6. Southee struck again when he removed Thirimanne by inducing an outside edge, giving Watling a chance to make amends.
It was the short delivery that claimed Angelo Mathews, who miscued a pull off Boult to Southee at fine leg. Even the experienced Kumar Sangakkara found the going tough against the most inexperienced of the seam trio, Milne, and edged to the keeper. It was a dismissal that would have made the bowling coach Shane Bond proud. The ball landed on middle and nipped away, squaring up the left-hander. Milne posed questions to the other left-hand batsman Tharanga as well, and looked like he deserved more than one wicket as the halfway stage.
Mahela Jayawardene and Tharanga showed some initiative in a stand of 47, stepping out to the spin of Nathan McCullum when the seamers were getting a breather. McCullum, though, had the last laugh when he took aim at the bowler's end and knocked the stumps with Jayawardene short of his ground. A wild slash by Jeevan Mendis off Andrew Ellis saw him walk back for a fourth-ball duck, leaving Sri Lanka at 92 for 6 in the 24th over.
Tharanga reached his fifty, and when he edged Southee to Watling on 60, the rain arrived. New Zealand didn't have the pleasure of bowling Sri Lanka out but they went back with some positives, having run Sri Lanka close in at least two matches. With two Tests to play, at different venues, one would feel the teams haven't seen the last of the rain, with the monsoon in full swing.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo