press trust of india
CARDIFF, 8 JUNE: Their morale sky-high after a 2-1 series win over England, New Zealand would look to carry their good form into the Champions Trophy when they clash with Sri Lanka in a Group A match here tomorrow.
Sri Lanka have an overwhelming record of winning 10 of their last 11 One-Day Internationals, including six in a row against New Zealand, but the Black Caps would back themselves to reverse the trend, particularly when their batsmen have been going great guns. Opener Martin Guptill smashed two consecutive hundreds against England and Ross Taylor hit half-centuries in all the three matches of the series. Skipper Brendon McCullum, on his day, can demolish any attack, so much of the Black Caps’ fortune would depend on how their top-order batsmen perform.
The Kiwis are also perhaps the best acclimatised side, after hosts England, having by now spent a lot of time here. They know the conditions well and that will help them fix their team combination quickly.
Not all is so simple, though. Against England, they faced a pace-prong attack but Sri Lanka are full of wily spinners, led by Sachitra Senanayake. Jeevan Mendis and Rangana Herath are the other specialist spinners while Tillakaratne Dilshan can also be useful.
That spin attack would be key to Sri Lanka’s performance, even though Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara can do the job in helpful conditions. Even Kiwi coach Mike Hesson has acknowledged this fact.
“We could conceivably be facing up to 35 overs of spin. We need to be proactive against it,” Hesson said ahead of the clash.
Sri Lanka’s biggest worry is their batting. Neither their top-order batsmen nor their middle-order ones are in good form. Mahela Jaywardene and Kumar Sangakkara never seemed to be at their best during the recent Indian Premier League.
Skipper Angelo Mathewes too had to and give up leading his IPL side owing to his poor form, sitting matches out.
It means that the Black Caps bowling attack, to be led by young paceman Mitchell McClenaghan, will bowl at a bunch of batsmen who are short on confidence. Tim Southee, Kyle Mills, Dough Bracewell form the New Zealand pace department.
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (captain), Doug Bracewell, Ian Butler, Grant Elliott, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Colin Munro, Luke Ronchi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori, Kane Williamson.
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (captain), Dinesh Chandimal, Dilhara Lokuhettige, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Mahela Jayawardene, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Jeevan Mendis, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Kumar Sangakkara, Sachithra Senanayake and Lahiru Thirimanne.