Cricket: Rain dampens mood of Black Caps

It isn't getting any easier for the Black Caps in Sri Lanka.

They've had to deal with inclement weather for the majority of their tour and now the Black Caps have illness and a key injury adding to their challenge after losing the second ODI against Sri Lanka this morning.

For the third straight game rain played a pivotal role in the result, with the game ending in the 23rd over of Sri Lanka's chase as the dark clouds rolled in and ended New Zealand's hopes after a strong batting effort.

Sri Lanka were awarded the victory by 14 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis Method after the covers were called on with the hosts on 118-3 following New Zealand's innings of 250-6.

New Zealand started on the back foot with the withdrawal of opener Brendon McCullum due to a back strain and were hampered further during the game with Ross Taylor and Andrew Ellis suffering stomach bugs.

Despite the injury and illnesses New Zealand posted their highest score in Sri Lanka only to have the rain rob them of a decent chance to defend it.

It means 89 of the 240 overs have been completed on the tour so far. The one-off Twenty20 match was abandoned with just 16 overs bowled, while Friday's opening ODI was rained out completely.

This morning's match had to be moved from Colombo to Pallekele after the ground for the second and third ODIs was flooded.

New Zealand won the toss and decided to bat with Taylor leading the way with 72 from 62 balls including seven boundaries and two sixes. BJ Watling (55), Rob Nicol (46) and James Franklin (35) all made strong contributions as the Black Caps set a competitive total.

Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene finished on 43 from 49 balls leading Sri Lanka to a 1-0 lead in the best of five series.

Black Caps coach Mike Hesson said there wasn't a good mood in the dressing room following another rained effected result.

"It's a bit of a hollow feeling I think. After having batted well and got a good score on the board and to get that last wicket of Dilshan the game was pretty even. To then see it rain again is obviously pretty depressing really," he said.

"250 was a good score and as I said Sri Lanka are pretty top heavy and we were able to remove two of their three big guns in the first 20 overs so we were pretty confident we'd have a crack at it."

Taylor revealed after the match that he vomited before his innings. The same illness robbed the Black Caps of a seamer when Ellis left the field early into Sri Lanka's innings.

Hesson has his fingers crossed that Ellis and McCullum will be free to play in the third ODI on Tuesday night.

"Hopefully we'll get a full squad of players to choose from. It was a big loss for us today to have Andy Ellis having to leave the field three to four overs into the game. He was really sick so that gave us a seamer short so I thought the rest of the guys stood up nicely.

"Unfortunately his (McCullum) back flared up and today he wasn't in great shape and we obviously had to remove him from the side."

Despite the illnesses, injuries and unconfirmed reports of ark building in the area, Hesson remains positive heading into a must-win game of what must have been a frustrating tour to date.

"It's a good challenge for us. A lot of times in the hotel, a lot of games shortened. We just have to make sure we keep people on task."

That might be difficult. Heavy rain is forecast for Pallekele once again on Tuesday.

- nzherald.co.nz

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