Jan 4, 7 months ago

New Zealand look to check boxes, Sri Lanka for something to cling to

http://sportsinfo.lk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/GettyImages-1089258284.jpgNew Zealand look to check boxes, Sri Lanka for something to cling to

Both sides could take positives from the first ODI, which New Zealand won comfortably.

New Zealand v Sri Lanka
2nd ODI
Bay Oval, Tauranga
Saturday, 5 January, 14:00 local, 01:00 GMT

In cricket perhaps more than any other sport, there are defeats and then there are defeats. It’s a fact of life Sri Lanka have become more acquainted with than most over the last year or so, finding themselves at a low ebb, still struggling to come to terms with a series of high-profile retirements.

Beaten 4-1 and then 3-0 by England in home ODI and Test series, and then smashed in the second Test against New Zealand, the Asian side have had to feed off scraps, a sharp spell or a promising innings having to make do in place of proper challenges.

In that context, though it ended in sizeable defeat by 45 runs, the first ODI was one of Sri Lanka’s more positive recent results. Though the bowlers went round the park, Kusal Perera’s fourth ODI century and a sparkling 76 from Niroshan Dickwella gave Sri Lanka brief hopes that they could threaten New Zealand’s total of 371/7. Now the challenge for those two is to build on their efforts, and for their teammates to recognise that competing is not beyond them.

For New Zealand, the situation is similar in that the result can be less fulfilling than the manner in which it is achieved. With the World Cup looming, and with New Zealand expected to be one of the front-runners, there is the air of a checklist, with more and more ticked off every game – that’s the No.5 locked in, we’re a step closer to knowing our spinner, that sort of thing.

GettyImages-1076572666

There was one significant box checked in the first ODI, with Jimmy Neesham, playing his first game for New Zealand since 2017, going a long way towards nailing the all-rounder’s spot, smashing five sixes in an over and then claiming three wickets. But elsewhere with the bat it was the usual suspects putting their hands up.

Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, and Ross Taylor all made runs, but Henry Nicholls and Colin Munro each failed. The pair have fully cracked the longest and shortest format respectively, but for both big scores in the 50-over game have eluded them. New Zealand will of course be desperate to win and claim the series honours, but it would be all the sweeter if one of those two played a significant part in securing the victory.

Key players

Ross Taylor (New Zealand): Guptill made more runs in the first ODI, and Neesham made his faster, but with a 37-ball 54 Taylor showed himself to be in prime form. It’s a toss up between him and Williamson to say who is the Black Caps’ best ODI batsman, and the second ODI could see him register yet another big score.

Kusal Mendis (Sri Lanka): The crown prince of Sri Lanka cricket was in fine form during the Test series, reining in his attacking instincts to blunt New Zealand’s attack for an entire day in the first Test, before making a half-century in the second as the rest crumbled around him. He is yet to fully crack ODI cricket, averaging 27.5 from 55 ODIs with a solitary century, and if he is to achieve his stated aim of reaching 10,000 ODI runs, that will have to improve. A must-win ODI when you’re in form a few months out from a global tournament would be as good a time as any to step up.

Conditions

The venue is the same as the first ODI, though the pitch is expected to be a tad slower. It should still favour batting. The weather should be mild and clear.

Squads

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Colin Munro, James Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee

Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga (c), Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Asela Gunaratne, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Lakshan Sandakan, Seekkuge Prasanna, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara

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