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Series slips away from Black Caps as rain falls again

Published: 7:54AM Sunday November 11, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

The Black Caps handed a one-day series victory to Sri Lanka this morning, after failing to score enough runs in the fourth of five limited-overs matches on their current tour.

With the opening match rained out and two subsequent contests lost - albeit severely affected by weather - New Zealand still had a chance to share series honours if they could win the final two fixtures.

But rain and Messrs Duckworth/Lewis again conspired to frustrate the Kiwis, as if they needed any further obstacles to overcome.

With every likelihood of disruption, Sri Lanka won an important toss and asked New Zealand to bat, but it was another 2h 40m before the teams could take the field. By that stage, the match had been shortened to 42 overs for each team and further delays saw it reduced to 32 during the Black Caps' dig.

But New Zealand had not done enough with the bat to suggest they could win, regardless of their battle with the elements. Brendon McCullum led the effort with just 30 runs and his second-wicket stand of 29 with opener BJ Watling was their biggest partnership.

They were already 106-6 when they lost 10 overs to the rain, having lost Kane Williamson and Nathan McCullum in consecutive balls, and then Andrew Ellis departed two runs later.

In an effort to squeeze out runs, the Caps lost four wickets for 11 in their final three overs.

Their cause was aided by a late flurry from tailenders Tim Southee (seven runs off eight balls) and Adam Milne (12 off three).

Spinner Jeevan Mendis was the best of the Sri Lankan bowlers with three wickets for 15 runs off four overs, just missing his hat-trick late in the innings.

Their total of 131 was never enough for the bowlers to defend and the home side cruised through for the loss of just three wickets - two at the death - with almost six overs to spare.

Opener Dinesh Chandimal, recalled to the Sri Lankan line-up after a lengthy absence, paced the innings with 43 runs and Kumar Sangakarra was there at the end with 42 not out.

Southee, Ellis and Trent Boult snared a wicket each, but their rivals eventually got home on a wide from Milne.

"Sri Lanka played smart cricket today, right from the toss to the way they bowled," conceded NZ skipper Ross Taylor. "The rain was not easy, but it wasn't easy for both sides - we were just beaten by a better team.

"We've still got one more game in the series and 3-1 sounds a lot better than 4-0. Hopefully, the weather plays its part in the next game and we can give the fans back home something to cheer about."