New Zealand vs Sri Lanka: Sri Lankan cricket is in a state of transition. Well, if you’re a Sri Lankan supporter you’d feel that sentence has been around for quite some time. They have two players in their ranks who’ve played one ODI each since 2015 & the batting looks extremely brittle. They’ve got the like of Kusal Mendis, Angelo Matthews, Lahiru Thirimanne but the line-up provides no conviction whatsoever.
On the other hand, the Kiwis after finishing runners-up in the last World Cup have managed to up their game by a considerable margin. Ross Taylor just can’t stop scoring, Kane Williamson is one of the world’s best, Martin Guptill & Tom Latham have enhanced their skills to a pleasant fineness & Jimmy Neesham who was a spectator in the last edition has come out stronger than ever. This Kiwi unit is settled, strong & can certainly give the teams a run for their money.
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RUSTY LANKA vs ADEPT KIWIS
As far as bowling units are concerned, Sri Lanka will gleefully welcome their talisman Lasith Malinga. The old warhorse has still got some steam left in his tank & he’ll play the protagonist of a rather torpid Lankan attack. Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal & Thisara Perera are decent bowling options, but they lack the potency to go all the way on the world stage. Suranga Lakmal has been their best pick in the last 4 years. The pacer has picked 56 wickets in 47 games during this period but doesn’t feature in the top 20. Lakmal is placed 25th among the highest wicket-takers since 2015. Thisara Perera & Nuwan Pradeep in this interim have picked 51 & 39 wickets respectively.
Trent Boult will lead the attack for the Kiwis. The left-arm pacer has 107 scalps after the 2015 World Cup. Only Adil Rashid, Rashid Khan & Kagiso Rabada have picked more wickets. Lockie Ferguson will be hurling thunderbolts at 150 kmph & the spin duo of Mitchell Santner & Ish Sodhi provide the dexterity needed in the middle overs.
Lanka clearly will play second fiddle & have a lot of catching up to do but the world tournaments are known to get the best out of individuals. Can Lanka surprise us all? If they falter, they’re in for a gruesome beating.
When: 1st June 2019
Where: Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
Kick-Off Time: 3:00 PM IST
New Zealand lead the head-to-head record between the two teams. The Blackcaps have won 48 out of the 98 games the two teams have played. Sri Lanka, however, lead at the World Cups. They lead 6-4. In England, the teams have met 3 times with New Zealand coming out victorious on 2 occasions. At the Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, for the 3rd World Cup 2019 fixture, New Zealand are favourites by a long way.
Dimuth Karunaratne is all set to open with Lahiru Thirimanne. Lasith Malinga will lead the bowling department, while Jeevan Mendis & Dhananjaya de Silva will be the available tweakers.
New Zealand were smashed for 421 by the Windies in the warm-up fixture. Matt Henry & Lockie Ferguson went for plenty but will be persisted with, in their tournament’s openers. Tom Blundell who scored a magnificent 106 will unfortunately not feature in the playing XI.
PROBABLE PLAYING XI
Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee/Matt Henry, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson.
Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera (wk), Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Nuwan Pradeep/Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Kane Williamson is one of the best batsman in world cricket at the moment. The right-handed magician is graceful, has got a ton of time to pick the length of the deliveries & has got a cool head on his shoulders. With the willow in his hand, Williamson can control bowling attacks. He can accelerate, nudge around & bat long. Post the 2015 World Cup, Kane Williamson has scored 2868 runs at 47.01.
He’s scored 5 hundreds & 21 fifties in 65 games. In the last 17 months, his average has dropped down to 44.10 but this is Kane Williamson we are talking about. The man can swat a fly, get into fine batting positions & cream it through covers. That’s how good the Kiwi skipper is.
Lasith Malinga’s over in the finals of IPL 2019 was a testament to the man’s sternness, mentally. He’s surely lost a yard a pace but the dexterity is there for everyone to see. For Sri Lanka to challenge a solid New Zealand line-up all the departments have to work in tandem. The likes of Angelo Matthews & Kusal Mendis who on their days can be world class have to step up. How far will Lanka go will this unit? New Zealand vs Sri Lanka promises to be an absolute thriller.
FANTASY CRICKET TEAM FOR NEW ZEALAND vs SRI LANKA
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