The south-west monsoon allowed only 6.2 overs of play in the third ODI between Sri Lanka and Pakistan at the R Premadasa Stadium, leaving the series level at 1-1.
There were early warning signs that the match could be a stop-start affair as a brief shower forced the groundstaff to bring on the covers soon after the toss. The rain relented and the match began on time, but only one ball was bowled after which the showers returned to hold up play for 75 minutes.
When the cricket resumed, Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara got the ball to jag around to test Pakistan’s batsmen. Mohammad Hafeez perished in the first over, nibbling at a swinging delivery from Malinga to edge to the keeper. Kulasekara’s inswing caused more problems, and several close calls, before Azhar Ali was adjudged lbw in the sixth over though the ball looked to have struck him outside off.
Only two more balls were bowled before the umpires decided to halt play as ominous clouds threatened an extended break. The covers were on even before the rain began, but it hardly let up through the rest of the day. The groundstaff took off the covers several times, but the rain didn’t stay away long enough for a resumption.
There had been plenty of debate before this match over whether Pakistan needed to play an extra batsman, and it was settled as Pakistan chose to bring in a specialist batsman, Asad Shafiq, in place of fast bowler Rahat Ali. There wasn’t enough play, however, to test the soundness of the strategy. There also wasn’t enough play for 34-year-old left-arm-spinner Sajeewa Weerakoon, making his debut seven years after his first national call-up, to either bat or bowl.