Nine game days, three matches, and no victories so far – Sri Lanka had not expected to steamroll their opposition in New Zealand, but the disappointments have now begun to stack up, and a pattern to their woe has emerged.
With the bat, they sustain too many early losses, and even when batsmen play sublime innings, as Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene already have done on tour, they cannot gain enough ground to make up for their teammates’ failures. With the ball, Sri Lanka have routinely made headway against the New Zealand top order, only to be scuttled by the batsmen lower down, who dig deep and summon meaningful partnerships.
There have been encouraging glimpses, even from the younger group of players, but the visitors have not pulled together a complete performance yet. They are waiting for their bowlers to be penetrative throughout the game, and for their top order to set the likes of Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera up with a solid foundation.
New Zealand, though, have been breezing through in pole position. Every time the opposition appear to be gaining on them, the hosts blow a raspberry through the back window, and pull away some more. Their World Cup preparation seems to be about fine-tuning and staying intense.
Martin Guptill has been in excellent List A form, but could do with a roaring ODI knock to put his place out of doubt, and get his confidence in order. Grant Elliott is fighting to make himself a top XI player. Some heftier contributions from Luke Ronchi’s bat would put New Zealand more at ease, as well.