Black Caps go down in another rain-affected ODI
The Black Caps' sodden and unsuccessful tour of Sri Lanka continued this morning with another rain-affected loss in Hambantota.
Constant rain interruptions again played into the home side's hands, but New Zealand were also under-par with the bat.
Sri Lanka were never put under enough pressure as they cruised to a seven wicket win, their third of this tour.
With the victory, Sri Lanka seals the five-match series 3-0 with a match to play, tomorrow night (NZ time), also in Hambantota.
New Zealand's total of just 131-8 from 32 overs was never going to be enough and when the Duckworth-Lewis method reduced Sri Lanka's target from 132 to 131, quick wickets were the only thing that was going to help the tourists.
They never came.
Sri Lanka put on 36 for the first wicket and 87 for the second as Dinesh Chandimal (43) and Kumar Sangakkara (42no) found it simply too easy.
Both played and missed a lot, but were also able to dine out on bad balls.
New Zealand did finish well, taking the wickets of Chandimal and Lahiru Thirmanne in the dying overs and could have added Sangakkara, but by then the result was a fait accompli and the hosts reached their target with more than five overs up their sleeve.
Sangakkara was "dismissed" twice in two balls yet remained at the crease.
Trent Boult had him caught behind but, as the batsman trudged off, the third umpire relayed to the middle that he wanted to check for a no-ball.
Replays proved too close to call with the television commentators picking the ball was legitimate, but Boult was ruled to have overstepped.
The next ball - the free hit - Sangakkara hit a catch straight to Brendon McCullum at mid off.
Apart from adding a bit of excitement to otherwise straightforward chase, the late wickets had little affect on the game and New Zealand will rue two things not going their way.
Firstly, Ross Taylor lost another toss and with more November rain around, the team batting second was always going to have a huge advantage.
That said, New Zealand needed plenty more runs and a middle order capitulation proved their downfall.
From 73-3, New Zealand folded to 116-8 as Jeevan Mendis ripped through them.
McCullum was the top scorer with 30 while Kane Williamson and James Franklin were the next best with 21 apiece.
A dejected Taylor gave his third losing captain's speech of the series.
"We were beaten by a better team at the end of the day," he said.
"Sri Lanka played smart cricket today, obviously right from the word go, to the toss, to the way they bowled. They put us under pressure. The rain is not easy, but it's not easy on both sides."
He was pleased with how some of his younger bowlers were developing, including debutant Adam Milne and said his side were desperate to bounce back in the final match.
"We've still got one more game to go in this series and 3-1 looks a lot better than 4-0," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News