New Zealand's reception on their tour of Sri Lanka was cold and rainy, as the hosts' seamers left their batting in disarray on a stop-start evening marred by heavy showers that ultimately sealed the game's fate. These showers also saved the visitors from defeat; just two overs after Sri Lanka had kept New Zealand to 74 in an already truncated fixture, the rain again caused an interruption that proved terminal.
In his first match as Sri Lanka's full-time T20 captain, Angelo Mathews hoped for some assistance for his bowlers in wet conditions and he wasn't disappointed. The discipline with which his bowlers bowled in the first half of the innings set up the game for Sri Lanka.
Mathews paved the way with a maiden first up, moving the ball both ways, getting some early swing and beating Rob Nicol's early attempts to clear the in-field. Kulasekara followed suit, the only aberration early on being a smashed four through cover by opener Tom Latham. The batsman perished next ball, swinging, and missing, a straight delivery and despite wickets in hand, the innings stagnated. Only 16 runs came in the Powerplay, the lowest for New Zealand in a T20 international.
The Sri Lanka seamers maintained tight lines, bowled mostly just short of a good length, beat the bat and cramped the batsmen as they tried to make space and push on. Brendon McCullum, still not set, charged out in a failed attempt to slog Kulasekara and skied an easy catch. Even as Mathews kept one end quiet, he brought on Shaminda Eranga who trapped Nicol in front with an inswinger in his first over. Another bowling change, Thisara Perera, was a touch fortunate to have James Franklin caught down the leg side to make it 18 for 4. A 38-ball boundary drought was broken by BJ Watling but Ross Taylor's nick to the keeper in the ninth over while trying to cut Perera left the visitors in a deep hole.
A 70-minute rain interruption gave them brief respite, and a reduction in overs - to 14 a side - spurred the lower order to chase quick runs. Andrew Ellis pulled Perera for a flat six over deep midwicket before Southee tore into Eranga to lend a bit of a respectability to New Zealand's score in a truncated game. Bowling the penultimate over, Eranga doled out length and Southee used power, and some cheekiness when he shuffled across to glance one fine, to take the bowler for 16 runs. Kulasekara, though, conceded just three off the final over to ensure his team walked back on a high, with not much for their batsmen to scale down. But the rain was to deny them.