It's become their home away from home, but the touring New Zealand cricketers won't shed any tears when they farewell Pallekele tomorrow.
Having lost three in a row there during the World Twenty20 tournament, the batsmen ducked and weaved on a wet pitch before rain had the final say in yesterday's T20 international.
Tonight's first of five ODIs against Sri Lanka at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium is also under threat of rain, and if a game does get under way, the pitch will be a worry.
"A no-result was a fair reflection of the day. The conditions weren't suitable for international cricket," coach Mike Hesson said of their tour opener.
"The top of the surface was a bit like Plasticine really. The ball indented in the wicket and did some funny things. I guess the other side is that it's not going to get better throughout the day."
So it will clearly be a bowl first scenario if captain Ross Taylor calls correctly alongside home skipper Mahela Jayawardene, and the touring seamers will be pawing at the ground.
New Zealand staggered to 28-6 before recovering to 74-7 off their rain-reduced 14 overs, and the hosts were 6-0 when time was called. Asked if any positives could be gleaned ahead of their month-long tour, Hesson's silence was telling.
But he moved to allay fears the tour could be marred by rain. Games two and three of the ODI series are in Colombo, and the final two in Hambantota before tests in Galle and Colombo.
"A number of teams have toured over here at this time of year without quite as much disruption so hopefully come tomorrow and the rest of the tour we'll get some good weather."
Hesson said the pre-tour aim of getting all 15 players on the park in the first three games remained. Fast bowler Adam Milne is the only head-scratcher as he battles illness which ruled him out of yesterday's match and has him in doubt today.
"Hopefully he [Milne] is going to play quite a bit. He's a bit sick at the moment and we were keen to involve Adam in the game [tonight]."
The first six batsmen yesterday got single figure scores, including new opener Tom Latham who faced five deliveries for four.
He would continue at the top for the ODI series, in the rested Martin Guptill's absence.
"We're still finding out where his best position is but he's had success at the top of the order," Hesson said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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