|Scorecard:||Sri Lanka v New Zealand|
|Event:||New Zealand in Sri Lanka 2012/13|
DateLine: 30th October 2012
Sri Lanka v New Zealand
New Zealand begin their tour of Sri Lanka right from where they left-off in the ICC World T20 2012. The Black Caps' campaign in the recent World T20 ended at the same venue when they lost all their three Super Eights matches, including two in the tie-break 'super over'. New Zealand will be determined to erase bitter memories of the Pallekele ground when they clash with Sri Lanka in a one-off T20 International today.
Ross Taylor's team tied their games against eventual winners, the West Indies and runners-up Sri Lanka, before suffering defeats in the one-over eliminator. New Zealand, who will also play five one-day ODIs and two Tests on their month-long tour, return to the Pallekele stadium without key players Daniel Vettori and Martin Guptill. Experienced left-arm spinner Vettori is missing the tour due to an injury while opener Guptill has been rested for the limited-overs contests and will figure only in the Tests.
But New Zealand all-rounder Jacob Oram said the tourists had the resources to do well. "If we play well we are confident that we can win," he said ahead of the match. "We do appreciate that Sri Lanka is a very good side in their home conditions and more than a match for us at times, but we have enough talent. We've got to make sure the talent comes out at the right time."
New Zealand, are looking to rebuild their side, with some new players looking to make a mark at the global stage. The absence of Martin Guptill is going to weaken their top-order batting but provides a massive opportunity for Rob Nicol to establish himself in International cricket.
However, the onus will be on the senior players, Ross Taylor, Jacob Oram and Brendon McCullum, to take the responsibility on their shoulders. All of them took part in the recently-concluded Champions League T20 2012.
They have a decent batting lineup and a strong bowling attack. The tourists will be filled with energy owing to inputs from Shane Bond and bowling coach Chaminda Vaas. However, they will have to choose which two to open with. Kyle Mills and Tim Southee will get good swing initially. Trent Boult is young, fast and furious. Taylor may also choose to open with spin – Nathan McCullum can provide the early breakthrough. Ronnie Hira can get done with his overs pretty quickly and economically. Oram's slow swinging deliveries are his biggest asset and quite often batsmen are unable to score off him. James Franklin can also be given the ball for a couple of overs. The Kiwis have a very strong bowling unit and they will expect their bowlers to win them the match.
Sri Lanka also made a few changes as all-rounder and understudy, Angelo Mathews was named the new T20 captain in place of Mahela Jayawardene, who stepped down after his team's defeat against the West Indies in the World Twenty20 final in Colombo earlier this month. Jayawardene has been rested for the T20 game along with paceman Lasith Malinga, but will return to lead the side in the one-dayers. "The selectors wanted to give these two cricketers a rest. Their absence from the team is a big loss but with the squad I have been given, I am confident we can win," said Mathews.
Sri Lanka's batting lineup is very strong, especially at home. Tillakaratne Dilshan will be the senior opener along with Dilshan Munaweera and hence will have to play more cautiously. The middle order is pretty strong with the likes of the flamboyant and experienced Kumar Sangakkara and Upul Tharanga. Sri Lanka's batting lineup is deep and runs right upto no.9. Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara and Jeevan Mendis can all bat quite a bit. This gives the top order batsmen more freedom to play their strokes.
Sri Lanka's bowling attack is pretty strong as well and they have a wide variety of options. Kulasekara is a genuine swing bowler who can mix it up nicely. Angelo Mathews has opened the bowling and been pretty economical in the recent past. They have two more quicks in Perera and Shaminda Eranga. Their spinners have been pretty consistent as well. Jeevan Mendis and youngster Akila Dananjaya make a good leg break-off break combo. They also have Dilshan who has been bowling a couple of overs quite regularly. Unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis, the most successful bowler of the World Twenty20 with 15 wickets in six matches, will also miss today's match and the first three one-dayers due to an injury.
Sri Lanka and New Zealand have so far played 10 T20 internationals, with each side winning five. Both teams have nearly equal status in all formats of cricket. The winning average of both teams shows that they can be considered as a balance opponents, although Lankans will have favorite position through out the tour.
Sri Lanka squad: AD Mathews*; LD Chandimal; KMDN Kulasekara; A Dananjaya; RMS Eranga; TM Dilshan; BMAJ Mendis; NLTC Perera; EMDY Munaweera; KC Sangakkara†; WU Tharanga; HDRL Thirimanne; SMSM Senanayake
New Zealand squad: LRPL Taylor*; AM Ellis; TA Boult; JEC Franklin; TWM Latham; RM Hira; BB McCullum†; KD Mills; NL McCullum; AF Milne; JDP Oram; RJ Nicol; TG Southee; KS Williamson; BJ Watling
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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