There's any number of reasons why rain-shortened ODI cricket can be deeply unsatisfactory.

By the time the fourth match of New Zealand's series against Sri Lanka got under way at Saxton Oval yesterday, it had already trimmed to a 24-over contest. In the end only nine were possible, New Zealand making 75 for three. A shame, as the contest promised much after Thursday's Sri Lankan turnaround.

Players generally would rather be elsewhere after hours of moping about and, with the best will, there is a slightly forced feel to everything. Yesterday it was about looking up and waiting for the drizzle to return.

You might argue it was an unexpected opportunity to get in a spot of T20 practice ahead of the five games in that form to come against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and from there March's world event in India.


That said, much can happen in a short time. The last time an ODI was shortened to such a degree in New Zealand - against the West Indies in Queenstown on New Year's Day 2014 - Corey Anderson smeared 131 in 47 balls, Jesse Ryder (remember him?) got 104 in 51 and the hosts clouted 283 for four in 21 overs.

There can only be one winner of this five-game series, which concludes in Mt Maunganui on Tuesday, but Sri Lanka will fancy their chances of squaring it, after Thursday's eight-wicket win.

Indeed, they did well in vastly different circumstances yesterday.

Take out Martin Guptill striking three sixes in four balls off lively Dushmantha Chameera's second over, which cost 26, and one over of dross at the end from legspinner Jeff Vandersay, which went for 15, and the Sri Lankans did a decent job.

The ball held up enough to make the slower delivery an ace, but it's easy to imagine players' were finding it hard to switch on.

There was time for left arm spinner Milinda Siriwardana to bowl the worst delivery of the summer to Henry Nicholls. It stuck in his hand, bounced in front of the non-striker and bobbled down beside the pitch towards first slip.

New Zealand coach Mike Hesson admitted had there been a full match yesterday it may have offered Sri Lanka their most appropriate conditions of the series.

"Today was a good opportunity for them (Sri Lanka) on a really used surface. They would have been the most Sri Lankan conditions we'd have faced today and that would have been a challenge."

Captain Brendon McCullum sat the game out, still recovering from his injured back, while more expert information is being sought on the foot injury which hampered Tim Southee in Thursday's match.

Southee hurt his left foot in his first over of that game.

He was struck on the left foot by Australian quick Mitchell Starc at Brisbane in November. He had been untroubled since then, but the injury has flared up.

"Until we get a full picture and get someone skilled to look at them we're a little bit up in air," Hesson said. "Everyone seems to be on holiday. We've been able to get some scans done and we're hopeful he'll have part (to play) in the near future."

Trent Boult is back in the New Zealand squad for the fifth game.