Image courtesy of cricket.com.au
After losing each of the three completed matches on its tour of Sri Lanka to date, New Zealand will be playing for pride when it faces the home side in the 5th and final game of the One Day International series in Hambantota. With the only T20 International and the 1st ODI between the sides abandoned without a ball bowled, the remaining matches in the series have all being affected by inclement weather, seeing Sri Lanka win by Duckworth/Lewis method.
With incumbent opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan ruled out with a back injury, Dinesh Chandimal is likely to get another chance at the top of the order after guiding his side to victory with an unbeaten 43 in pursuit of 131 during the last match. Kumar Sangakkara also found some form there, finishing on 42 not out and will again play a key role for his side with the bat. With the series already won, the home side may choose to give some of their fringe players a game, with teenager spinner Akila Dananjaya and fast bowler Shaminda Eranga among those likely to get a start.
Little has gone right for the Black Caps in Sri Lanka, with the side beset by a series of problems that obviously affected their performance. One shining light has been the performances of BJ Watling at the top of the order however. The opening batsman has been the standout performer from either side, scoring two half centuries from his three innings to finally emerge on the international scene. He and skipper Ross Taylor , who has been battling illness, have starred with the bat for New Zealand and will again have a great deal of responsibility in this match, while Brendon McCullum will be looking for a big score after being well below his best since returning from injury.
New Zealand has now beaten Sri Lanka in just one of the past 11 completed ODI matches between the sides. With rain forecast in the evening, having to bowl second is again likely to be a distinct disadvantage so the team winning the toss is likely to bat first.
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