New Zealand are coming off a very poor tour of Bangladesh, and to add to their woes their best 3 batsmen Williamson, Taylor and Baz would not be available for this tour for different reasons. This is going to be a young New Zealand side under the leadership of Mills, facing off against the young Srilanka side with the exception of Jayawardene, Sanga, Malinga and Kulasekara.
Both teams would want to start off on a winning note, but Sri Lanka definitely has the upper hand here. The conditions and crowd would be supportive for the home team and this would be their best chance to clean sweep New Zealand. On the other hand, this is a good opportunity for New Zealand’s young guns to prove that they are ready for the international stage.
By playing 2 spinners, and having the additional aid needed in Dilshan they could easily trap New Zealand in their spin web. Chandimal and Thirimanne need to take added batting responsibilities and ease the pressure off Jaya and Sanga’s shoulders. Srilanka need to work on producing a good finisher in Matthews or Thirimanne. They do have Thisara Perera, but Perera would find it tough to break into the playing 11 because his bowling is too weak and the team is already pretty much balanced.
New Zealand seem to have a very weak middle order but their bowlers and all-rounders look as solid as ever. They are obviously missing a quality spinner, but they must work with what they have. Colin Munro’s form is the best part, and he is one who can play at a healthy strike rate too which makes it easier for the guys coming in next to score freely. Apart from him, there is not much to talk about in the batting unit but anyone can turn it on on their day and the captain would be hoping that does happen.
Srilanka: Dilshan, Kusal Perera/ Dimuth Karuratne, Kumar Sangakkara(wk), Dinesh Chandimal, Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Matthews (c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Senanayake, Ajantha Mendis
Under the hood: Angelo Matthews, the Sri Lanka captain himself is under fire for being one of the best young all-rounders in the game who has failed to light up the international stage. He has played quite a lot of matches to be known around the world now, but still people are unsure whether he is a batting all-rounder or a bowling all-rounder? On top of that, he is also considered one of the best finishers in limited overs, and if we add that to the burden of captaincy it is too much on a plate for 1 man alone! He needs to delegate responsibilities by giving added batting duties to Thirimanne and trying Dilshan as a spinner to ease the burden off himself.
New Zealand: Anton Devcich, Tom Latham, Neil Broom, Grant Elliot, Colin Munro, Luke Ronchi (wk), Corey Anderson, James Neesham, Kyle Mills (c), Nathan Mccullum, Tim Southee
Under the hood: It is hard for many to believe that Nathan Mccullum is the lead spinner of New Zealand, but well he is. He does not turn the ball a lot, nor does he possess a threat to the batsman, but he maintains his line and length and bowls at the stumps. He would be under immense pressure especially ater performing badly in the ODI series against Bangladesh, and a couple of bad performances here could cost him his place in the side too. He would be expected to dry up the runs and pick wickets, but it’s to be seen if he can do either of the two.
Expected Result: Srilanka Win
More important than the result of this match is the fact that this might be the 2nd last time we get to see the world’s greatest batsman, the man who is termed ‘GOD’, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar bat. The last time India played a test series at home, the crowds were nearly half full, but we can expect a full house on each day of the match considering everyone wants a glimpse of ‘GOD’. He has nothing more to prove, but he deserves the best of farewells one has ever received.
India seem to be favorites considering the fact that all batsmen are in tremendous form and they will be playing in front of a full house. The Eden is so noisy that it acts as a 12th player whenever India plays a match here, and that might come into effect. As always is the case, India’s bowling lacks the bite and that is exactly where the West Indies batsmen including Gayle, Chanderpaul, Samuels and Bravo could cash in. The crowd wouldn’t be caring much about the result of this test, because all they have come to see is a glimpse of the little master, Sachin Tendulkar.
People may assume that India now does not have a strong middle order, but that is by no means true. In Sachin, Kohli and Rohit they certainly are one of the top 3 middle orders in the world. Dhawan, Rohit, Kohli and Pujara are in blistering form, which is very bad news for Sammy and his men. While the entire world wil be busy watching Sachin, these 4 can kock a few runs under their belly and take India to a huge total. Ashwin will have to lead the bowling attack, and he has to be back to his best if India are to have even the thinnest of chances of winning this game. Yadav should make it to the plaing 11 and be the pacer whom the West Indians should be scared about.
The West Indies top 5 look as solid as ever, but it is their No.6 and 7 that is the weak link in the team. Both are not the best of batsmen, and if India break into the middle order Sammy would be worried about his batting unit. That being said, Sammy himself is a useful all-rounder and he should contribute in both departments by leading from the front. Ramdin must also make useful contributions to ensure there is no lower order collapse which might give India a chance to win.
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar (GOD), Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Mahendra Dhoni (wk)(c), Ravi Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Pragyan Ojha
Under the hood: As much attention the crowd would be paying on Sachin, the selectors would be paying the same amount on Murali Vijay. He has always been a replacement opener for India, until Sehwag and Gambhir were forced out of the team. However, he has never made the position his own and there still lacks login as to how he holds his place. With Sehwag, Gambhir, Rahane, and others looking to break into the playing 11, it’s now or never for Vijay. He does receive the backing of the captain, but that is not enough as runs is what will help him retain his place.
West Indies: Kieran Powell, Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Darren Sammy (c), Dinesh Ramdin (wk), Shane Shillingford, Tino Best/Veerasammy Permaul, Kemar Roach
Under the hood: Darren Bravo is one of a kind player, has an awesome technique but lacks consistency. In any format of the game, he gets 1 or 2 big scores and then fades away for the other few games. That is not what the team expects from the next-supposed-to-be-Lara, and for the very same reason he must bat maturely and consistently. He is West Indies best bet in these conditions as he can play spin very well, but he must battle it out initially and settle in. He can be as dangerous as Gayle or Samuels at least in the test format as he can bat long.
Expected Result: India Win
Bangladesh seem to be on top of their game, after beating New Zealand in the 3 match ODI series, but there is still 1 match to be played. Both teams do not want to take this one lightly, Bangladesh because they want to get up there in the rankings, and New Zealand because they want to gain more exposure to playing in Asian conditions.
There have been a lot of positives for both sides, the emergency of Neesham, Anderson for New Zealand, whereas it is the form of Tamim, Mortaza and Gazi that has brought a smile on the Bangladeshi supporters. This match is a dead rubber, and both teams might experiment with 1 or 2 players, but still they will go all guns blazing to win.
For Bangladesh, Tamim has reported pain and may be rested for the dead rubber. On the other hand, Mortaza’s burden should be managed smartly and as a result Al-Amin could debut, but the team management also said that they may need the experience of Mortaza. The top order looks a bit fragile, with neither Anamul, nor Mominul being in the best of forms, but their solid middle order more than makes up for it. Nasir hasn’t been among the runs, and being bangladesh’s best batsman, he should step up and perform.
With 2 of their best batsmen injured in Mccullum and Williamson, there is nothing to lose for the Kiwis but they must up their game. Rutherford and Taylor are very promising cricketers, but their performances show the kind of form they are in, very bad. Neesham and Anderson’s emergence as all-rounder’s is great for the team, who can now afford to play 5 bowlers or 6, as they wish. However, the lack of a good spinner is definitely hurting them, and Nathan Mccullum is the only one to be blamed here. Their second and younger opener Devcich is not cashing in after getting a start, and his domestic record doesn’t suggest he is a good player either, but New Zealand for some reason are showing faith in him, which might prove to be costly.
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal/Shamshur Rahman/Anamul Haque(any 2), Mominul Haque, Naeem Islam, Nasir Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim(c)(wk), Mahmudullah, Masrafe Mortaza/Al-Amin, Sohag Gazi, Abdur Razzak, Rubel Hossain
Under the hood: Mominul Haque has had a superb test series recently, but hasn’t quite contributed in this ODI series yet. With Shakib slated to make a comeback sooner than later, he is the only weak link in this batting unit currently and may have to make way if he doesn’t score heavily. He is a proven customer, just needs to spend some time in the middle and bat long. He comes in at #3, which is a good position to bat at, but consistency in this format of the game is a must.
New Zealand: Hamish Ruterford, Anton Devcich, Grant Elliot, Ross Taylor, Luke Ronchi (wk), James Neesham, Corey Anderson, Tom Latham, Nathan Mccullum, Kyle Mills(c), Tim Southee
Under the hood: Nathan Mccullum is New Zealand’s best spinner? That is a question that many want an answer to. He neither turns the ball a big way, nor is he really consistent, but he does manage to get breakthroughs and sometimes contains the runs too. However, the team management will certainly look into other spinners in domestic competitions as Mccullum seems to have been quite ineffective here and if he cannot get the Bangladeshi batsmen ut, what would he do against better batting line ups.
Expected Result: Bangladesh Win