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Mathews in doubt, NZ aim for series win

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DUNEDIN: Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews could miss a second straight match in New Zealand as the hosts aim to wrap up the seven-game one-day international (ODI) series in Dunedin.

A strained calf saw Mathews sidelined for the fifth game on Friday as New Zealand won by 108 runs at University Oval and the 27-year-old remains in doubt for game six at the same venue on Sunday, as Sri Lanka look to keep the series alive.

New Zealand lead the series 3-1 with two matches remaining and having won the past two games, the home side will have plenty of confidence.

While Sri Lanka insist Mathews does not have a “major” injury, the skipper has been far from his best in the ODI series, averaging just 27 from four innings with a high score of 39 not out.

“We took Angelo for an MRI scan, and it didn’t show any major damage [to his calf],” Sri Lanka team manager Michael de Zoysa said. “It’s just a bit tight and very sore at the moment.”

With Mathews struggling with the bat, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene have led the way for the tourists, averaging 73.75 and 63.75 respectively.

Dilshan (two) and Jayawardene (one) are the only Sri Lankan batsmen to notch centuries in the ODIs.

By comparison, four New Zealanders have reached triple figures in the series with Luke Ronchi (170 not out) and Grant Elliott (104 not out) producing centuries on Friday.

Kane Williamson and captain Brendon McCullum have also raised the bat.

But New Zealand’s batting coach Craig McMillan is convinced his team can improve ahead of the Cricket World Cup.

Ronchi and Elliott had to save New Zealand in game five in Dunedin after Sri Lanka had the home team reeling at 93-5.

“We can tidy up with both bat and ball and if we do that, it’s going to make us even stronger and harder to beat,” McMillan said.

“I think obviously if you’re five for 90, you’ve lost a few too many wickets at the start so need to reassess that, try not put ourselves in that kind of hole puts that pressure on that middle to lower order.

“With the ball we offered up too many scoring opportunities in terms of boundaries to the Sri Lankan batsmen.”

With game three of the series having been rained out, Sri Lanka can only level the series - at best - if they win the last two matches in Dunedin and Wellington.

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