Sri Lanka seal series with another win
Punctuated by a steady effort, Sri Lanka won yet another sluggish ODI of the ongoing series. The weather has been a major spoilsport in Sri Lanka over the past few days, and it was expected too. Nevertheless, the fourth ODI started a couple of hours later than the scheduled time due to the drizzle, and New Zealand were put to bat after Sri Lanka won the toss. The innings were truncated to 32 overs finally.
The Kiwis seemed to be on the back foot right from the initial overs; of course, the rain playing the major role of deceleration there. New Zealand got off to a slow start. Kulasekara troubled the openers, who were getting most of the runs off his bowling from edges and mistimed shots – a result of which was Nicol’s wicket in the 6th over. McCullum and Watling tried to stabilize the situation, but the run rate never shot up. They managed to take the score to 43 before Watling was run out. The pressure of dot balls soon gulped McCullum and Ross Taylor, and the team was left struggling at 78/4 from 21 Overs.
NZ’s run rate did pick up in the later part but it was still too little to give the Lankans any sort of scare.
New Zealand never really looked like making a comeback at any point of time in their innings. Kane Williamson showed the required temperament, however, it was too late by then. Sending him up the batting order might have made a difference. Jeevan Mendis took his share of wickets towards the end to make sure the run rate check was consolidated. The New Zealand batsmen tried hard, but the outfield had slowed down and in no way aided them. Malinga’s last over turned out to be the most expensive one for the innings, with the help of which, the scoreboard finally read 131/8 from 32 overs. However, the target for Sri Lanka was revised to 131 instead of 132 on the basis of D/L method, the explanation for which is beyond the scope of this article. The innings was dominated by the Sri Lankan bowlers, with Jeevan Mendis being the leading wicket taker 3/15 (4 overs). Kulasekara bagged 2 while Perera and Herath grabbed a wicket each. Most of the bowlers had an economy rate of less than 4 runs per over, except Malinga, whose last over blotted out his bowling figures.
In reply, Sri Lanka sprang a change at the start of the innings. Chandimal was sent out to bat with Upul Tharanga, who had a greater share of runs till the time he stayed at the center. Southee got the first breakthrough for New Zealand as Tharanga walked back to the pavilion for a score of 27. However, that was the only point where New Zealand were cheerful in the second innings. Sangakkara and Chandimal took charge from then onward, and both of them contributed runs displaying slightly different approach towards the New Zealand bowling attack. Chandimal faced a few difficulties initially, while Sangakkara was doing it all smoothly.
Dinesh Chandimal, too, played a slow but steady innings comprising mostly of singles. The run rate was never an issue for the hosts as they were easily cruising towards the target. The Kiwi bowlers were initially disturbing the Sri Lankan openers, however, the required fire was missing, and that helped the home team cover the remaining part of the chase easily. Boult got a consolation prize for his effort in the wicket of Chandimal towards the end. Ellis removed Thirimanne after the latter offered an unconvincing stroke to finish off the game.
Sri Lanka, thus, sealed this series with this win which was quite expected. Their middle order has been a bit of concern, but thanks to the weather and low target, they were not required to pad up. New Zealand will have to do a bit more work on their batting. Kane Williamson can be played higher up the order. We hope to see a good fight from the visitors in final ODI. Oh and yes, they need to pray to the rain Gods too.