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