Spinners see Sri Lanka square series

New Zealand

Sri Lanka's spin bowlers resigned New Zealand to a 36-run defeat in Saturday's rain-affected third an final ODI at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium.

Sri Lanka's spin bowlers resigned New Zealand to a 36-run defeat in Saturday's rain-reduced third an final ODI at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium.

Inclement weather across the country, which forced a washout in the first match and affected the Kiwis' victory in the second, also marred the weekend's closing fixture.

The hosts banked on an impressive total of 211 for eight in 33 overs on the back of opener Tillakaratne Dilshan's brisk half-century and a host of complementary cameos from the middle- through lower-order.

The tally, too, would have read considerably bigger – were it not for a small collapse in the wake of Dilshan and former captain Mahela Jayawardene's 91-run alliance for the first wicket.

The talented Mitchell McClenaghan was the pick of the visiting fast bowlers, with figures of two for 34, thoroughly justifying selection ahead of the young Adam Milne. All-rounder Jimmy Neesham and spinner Nathan McCullum, meanwhile, secured a brace each.

The Duckworth-Lewis system – increasingly influenced by poor light – later adjusted the Black Caps' target to 216, which ultimately was a bridge too far. The chase was quickly damaged by spinners Sachithra Senanayake and Rangana Herath, as the Kiwis capitulated to 63 for six in 19 overs.

Senanayake, deployed with the new ball, was particularly impressive. Pace ace Lasith Malinga was only used as a fourth-change bowler, such was the nature of conditions primed for slow bowling.

Neesham and McCullum defied, delaying the inevitable across an unbroken 63-run alliance from 36 deliveries. The former's 42 not out and the latter's unbeaten 35, however, were never going to be enough.

Senanayake claimed the Man of the Match award, while Dilshan took the Player of the Series accolade – thanks to three consecutive half-centuries. The Sri Lankans and Black Caps will conclude the tour with a two-match Twenty20 International series at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy next week.

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