TAURANGA – High on confidence after a big win in the second Test, hosts New Zealand will take on Sri Lanka in the one-day international leg of the tour, with both teams seeing the games as a way to get their World Cup combinations right.
The first ODI of 2019 will also mark the beginning the of the final round of preparations for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019. The World Cup is scheduled to begin from 30 May this year and hosts New Zealand, the finalists of the 2015 edition, will look to work out their final combination during a string of home ODIs.
The first of those is against Sri Lanka , whom they beat quite comfortably in the second Test to clinch the two-Test series 1-0, and will look to carry that momentum into the limited-overs set-up.
White-ball specialists Colin Munro, Martin Guptill and Jimmy Neesham are back in the mix and so are Lockie Ferguson and Ish Sodhi. Mitchell Santner, the spin-bowling all-rounder, misses out.
Leading the charge with the bat will be captain Kane Williamson and assisting him will be the experienced Ross Taylor, as the two New Zealand big guns look to get runs in the bank before the global tournament begins.
Tim Southee and Trent Boult will lead the new-ball attack, helped in the bowling by Doug Bracewell, Ferguson and Sodhi. Tim Seifert has been named the specialist wicket-keeper.
For Sri Lanka, it’s another phase under the captaincy of Lasith Malinga, who replaced Dinesh Chandimal. And while Angelo Mathews’ injury and subsequent omission from the squad comes as a blow, Sri Lanka have a good mix of youngsters and experienced cricketers to give them a good, balanced squad.
Chandimal, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera and Niroshan Dickwella make a power-packed batting line-up, and Malinga leads the bowling that has Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, Nuwan Pradeep and Kasun Rajitha.
Lakshan Sandakan, the left-arm wrist-spinner, is the lead spin bowler and Seekkunge Prasanna will bowl with him. Dasun Shanaka makes a good fast-bowling all-rounder. Sri Lanka were humbled by England at home during their last ODI series and will look to begin their 2019 on a good note.
Kane Williamson has been in good form lately with notable series-winning performances in the Tests against Pakistan and Sri Lanka and with the ability to switch gears according to formats quite quickly may be the No.1 threat for Sri Lanka .
Lasith Malinga, the new captain and veteran fast bowler has rejuvenated himself since the Asia Cup 2018, where he made his return to international cricket after being out of the team owing to various reasons including injuries and will look to refurbish the Sri Lanka line-up with the same energy that had made them win the 2014 World T20 under his captaincy.
A warm, sunny day is expected in Tauranga with 70% humidity. The last ODI played at the Bay Oval was in February 2018 where England bowled New Zealand out for 223. As is the case with wickets in New Zealand, there may be some assistance for the fast bowlers throughout the game but specially in the first 10 overs where there’s usually some swing on offer.
NEW ZEALAND: Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Colin Munro, James Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee
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.