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Mathews, Guptill excel in rain-hit ODI

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AUCKLAND: Martin Guptill’s 66 not out off 78 balls and Angelo Mathews’ 3 for 21 were the highlights of a disjointed 28.5 overs of play at Eden Park where the third one-day international between Sri Lanka and New Zealand ended in a no-decision. Rain interrupted twice, carving large chunks of time from the game, before returning in force just before 6pm to wash out the match completely. New Zealand had eased to 145 for 3 before the final interruption.

Brendon McCullum set off on his customary charge in the second over when he ran at Dhammika Prasad and tonked him over cover for six after Sri Lanka had won the toss under heavy skies and invited New Zealand to bat first. He continued to attack the venue’s small boundaries, lifting Prasad over fine leg two overs later, but Guptill swallowed up balls to get himself in.

After six overs, McCullum had hit 27 of New Zealand’s 32 runs, but the onslaught would soon end. He attempted to put Mathews’ first ball into the stands over deep midwicket, and perished when the top edge was well-held by Nuwan Kulasekara, who followed the high ball over his shoulder at square leg, running from short fine leg.

Guptill’s strike rate improved thanks in part to a pair of streaky boundaries behind square, and he soon settled into a more positive rhythm alongside Tom Latham, as spin was introduced. The surface had not offered much in the way of seam movement, and there was not much turn either, but Mathews and Sachithra Senanayake bowled tight lines in tandem to control the run rate, despite having to contend with a wet ball.

The batting pair was secure until the first rain interruption, and continued to play with freedom following the 85-minute break. Guptill took a special liking to Thisara Perera’s bowling, slamming a six over deep midwicket in the 21st over, then moving to 53 with a sweetly-struck lofted drive that ended in the stands beyond long-off. New Zealand hit 43 runs in the seven overs before the second major rain delay, but this time, their rhythm was upset somewhat by the break.

When the teams took the field again, now for a 43-overs-a-side match, Mathews struck in the 27th over, breaking the stand at 99 runs. Latham sought to cut an offcutter to third man, but ended up chopping it on to middle stump instead. Ross Taylor’s mediocre tour continued when he was trapped in front in Mathews’ next over. He burnt a New Zealand review in hopes the ball would be shown to be passing over the stumps, but projections suggested it would have shaved the top of middle stump. Rain began to fall heavily again as he exited the field. It persisted until officials were forced to call off the match.

The series after three matches stands level at one-all. The fourth ODI is at Nelson on Tuesday.

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