New Zealand won the just concluded Test series 1-0, drawing the first and then dishing out a 423 run hiding in the second match last week. The Black Caps made history along the way – in more ways than one. It took just 10 minutes to end Sri Lanka’s resistance on day five, giving the Black Caps a mammoth 423-run victory – their biggest win by runs in their 88-year test history, and the eighth largest of all time. It was a worthy way to bring up another major milestone – a fourth straight test series victory, the first time New Zealand have accomplished that feat. After victories over the West Indies, England and Pakistan, this series triumph was the most dominant of the lot. Only a historic partnership, placid pitch and rain saved Sri Lanka in Wellington, and after some day one wobbles, the Black Caps were always in command in their crushing series-clinching win.
Action now moves on to the limited over leg of the series with the first of three One Day Internationals between New Zealand and Sri Lanka taking place at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui on Thursday and the Black Caps start as firm favourites. The ODIs will be followed by a one-off T20I to wrap up the series on 11th January before Sri Lanka heads Down Under.
1st ODI: 06.30am January 03rd, Thursday @ Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
2nd ODI: 06.30am January 05th, Saturday @ Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
3rd ODI: 03.30am January 08th, Saturday @ Saxton Oval, Nelson
11.30am January 11th, Friday @ Eden Park, Auckland
One Day Internationals (Since 1979)
New Zealand: 45
Sri Lanka: 41
No result: 8
First Match: Prudential World Cup – 2nd match, Group B; New Zealand won by 9 wickets at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, June 09th, 1979
Last Match: 5th ODI – New Zealand won by 36 runs at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui on January 5th, 2016
On New Zealand soil
40 matches have seen the Black Caps win 25 and Sri Lanka 12 with 3 no results.
Twenty20 Internationals (Since 2006)
New Zealand: 7
Sri Lanka: 6
No Result: 1
First T20I: 1st Twenty20 International at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, Sri Lanka won by 18 runs (D/L method), December 22nd, 2006
Last T20I: 2nd T20, New Zealand won by nine wickets at Eden Park, Auckland, on January 10th, 2016
New Zealand recently drew 1-1 with Pakistan in the UAE with no result possible in what would have been the decider. Their last action on home soil came in February/March this year when they lost a thrilling series at home to England 3-2.
Sri Lanka were beaten 3-1 at home by England in October. Prior to that they were a big disappointment in the Asia Cup and they also lost 3-2 at home to South Africa, going down in the first 3 matches of that series before finding some form late on.
There’s more than just another series victory at stake for the Black Caps, as they return to short-form cricket with an eye on their ultimate goal for 2019. While they will be hot favourites to take a series win, there’s the small matter of the World Cup firmly on the mind of players and coaches alike. This is the first of three one-day series the Black Caps will play before cricket’s main event rolls around in May, and head coach Gary Stead wants to use the matches to fine-tune both his squad and playing style for the tournament.
One of the major question marks surrounding the potential World Cup squad comes at the all-rounder position. Colin de Grandhomme has been rested after a busy 12 months, Corey Anderson has been suffering from injury and illness, while Mitchell Santner is still making his return from injury with Northern Districts, and should be in the mix to make his ODI return against India later this month. Those absences have given the selectors a chance to evaluate Jimmy Neesham and Doug Bracewell, with the duo both earning recalls after a year out of the national side.
Opening batsmen Martin Guptill is ready to hit the ground running as well. The 32-year-old was recalled to the national side after missing the series against Pakistan in the UAE due to a calf injury. He hasn’t played for New Zealand since March 10th in the series against England and is likely to open the batting with Colin Munro. Attack-minded wicketkeeper Tim Seifert will also make his one-day debut.
Sri Lanka on the other hand start the leg with dark clouds overhead – having been recently rated as the most corrupt cricket nation by the world governing body. A host of scandals have rocked Sri Lankan cricket in recent years including a match-fixing controversy revealed in a sting operation carried out for a TV documentary. The ICC anti-corruption unit has regularly investigated cases in the island nation.
To compound matters, batting all-rounder Angelo Mathews has been ruled out owing to a left hamstring injury. The 31-year-old sustained the injury during their recently-concluded second Test against New Zealand. Confirming the development, Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal that Mathews has suffered a grade two hamstring strain and would be out of action for four weeks.
In the limited overs format before the New Zealand tour, Sri Lanka failed to make an impact. The island nation won just six while losing 10 of them. Sri Lanka couldn’t even make the Super 4 of the Asia Cup. Their poor show in the tournament led to Angelo Mathews not just losing his job as the limited overs captain but was also dropped from the abridged versions of the game. Chandimal, the Test captain, took over the reins of the ODI side, with Thisara Perera captaining Sri Lanka in the one-off T20I versus England.
After Sri Lanka dipped to heavy losses in shorter formats against England, the new selection panel decided to opt for another change in leadership by naming Lasith Malinga as the captain of limited overs sides. The only silver lining for Sri Lanka amidst all the despair was their come-from-behind win in the tri series in Bangladesh. Even in T20Is, they had a barren run, losing five matches in a row.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Doug Bracewell, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, James Neesham, Ish Sodhi, Tim Selfert
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
New Zealand should easily take the series especially since Sri Lanka are still in rebuild mode but expect them to push hard with a bowling attack that can do well in the Kiwi conditions. Expect plenty of runs from both sides.
Ready for action Folks?
Who is your Super 8?
Leagues up in the Lobby, Go get ’em champs!