New Zealand vs Sri Lanka 1st T20I: Preview and Prediction
After a successful Kiwi victory in the Test and ODI series, the caravan moves to the shorter format. New Zealand will lock horns against Sri Lanka in the first of the three-match T20I series starting Sunday. The event will be staged at the iconic Eden Park, Auckland.
Dasun Shanaka will be the captain of the Sri Lankan side. They possess three wicketkeeping options in the squad – Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, and Sadeera Samarickrama.
Pathum Nissanka is likely to open the batting with Charith Asalanka and Dhananjaya de Silva occupying the middle order. Both the Kusals may be included with the skipper Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, and Chamika Karunaratne building up the lower-middle order.
24-year-old batter, Lasith Croospulle has been included in the squad and could make a T20I debut in the upcoming series. Kasun Rajitha and Lahiru Kumara are likely to spearhead the bowling attack with either Dilshan Madhushanka or Dunith Wellalage to get a nod.
Meanwhile, New Zealand has some fresh faces as prominent members are in India, grinding up for the 16th edition of the Indian Premier League. In the absence of Kane Williamson and Tim Southee, Tom Latham will captain the national side.
Debutant Chad Bowes is likely to open the innings with him. The middle order is going to be jammed by Daryl Mitchell, Will Young, and Mark Chapman. Jimmy Neesham might play a part at the lower-middle order with Rachin Ravindra as the spinning all-rounder.
The bowling attack is likely to see names such as Matt Henry, Adam Milne, and Henry Shipley with Ish Sodhi as the lone wrist spinner. They have someone like Ben Lister who can be an alternative option, but New Zealand could go with their prime bowlers. It is also worth noting that wicketkeeper batter Tim Siefert has been recalled and could be a good addition at the top of the order. In that case, Chad Bowes will warm the bench.
What have they done so far?
The series has been dominated so far by the home side. They steamrolled the Lankan Lions 2-0 in both the Test and ODI series. Although the Asian side gave some tough fights at patches, they failed to edge past in the crunch moments of the matches.
In their latest match, Sri Lanka batted first and looked reckless. Barring Pathum Nissanka (57), none of the batters from the top five could go touch the double-digit mark. Dasun Shanaka (31) and Chamika Karunaratne (24) added some volumes at the end to reach the tally of 157.
Arriving for a paltry chase, New Zealand lost three wickets inside the first powerplay. The duo of Lahiru Kumara and Kasun Rajitha pushed the home side on the back foot. The scoreboard displayed 21/3 and skipper Latham followed back to the dugout soon.
They were 59/4 at 14.5 overs and then it was the resilience of Will Young (86*) and Henry Nichols (44*) that denied the Lankan bowlers. A century stand followed which drove the home side to a victory, sealing the series 2-0.
Out of the 20 matches that both teams played, New Zealand leads the race with 11 wins. Their counterparts have 8 victories with one game being abandoned due to rain.
Matt Henry (New Zealand): A wily operator of the cricket ball and an architect when it’s hard and new. He can extract lateral movement and create doubts in the mind of the opposition batters. Henry is a proven performer and the conditions are apt for him to spell his cob. The pacer has a bowling strike rate of 14.4 in New Zealand.
Pathum Nissanka (Sri Lanka): If one looks at the past three years, Nissanka is the most consistent batter for the Asian Champions. He has garnered over 1000 T20I runs in the past two years with an impressive average of over 30. In addition, the 24-year-old was the only batter to notch a fifty in the previous match that Sri Lanka played.
Sri Lanka: Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Charith Asalanka, Dasun Shanaka ©, Chamika Karunaratne, Wanindu Hasaranga, Kasun Rajitha, Dilshan Madhushanka, Lahiru Kumara
New Zealand: Chad Bowes, Tom Latham ©, Will Young, Daryl Mitchell, Mark Chapman, Rachin Ravindra, Jimmy Neesham, Matt Henry, Adam Milne, Ish Sodhi, Henry Shipley
New Zealand looks like a better side on paper in their own backyard. Although the Sri Lankan side is reining in Asia at the moment, it would be a daunting task to destabilize the Black Caps.