Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
New Zealand vs Sri Lanka | Wednesday 30 November | Christchurch | 23:30
Another calamitous batting display from Sri Lanka saw them fall to their second defeat in as many matches against New Zealand in Christchurch on Boxing Day. The teams will now look ahead to the third ODI due to be played in Nelson – a game that Angelo Matthews and his men have to get something out of if they want to keep the series alive.
Can Sri Lanka work through their dismal form or will Kane Williamson and co pile more misery on the beleaguered islanders?
To Win Match
New Zealand 2/9
Sri Lanka 33/10
If we’re being honest, New Zealand have been by far the superior side throughout this ODI series, winning both games with consummate ease. The most convincing win came last time out; having lost the toss and being asked to bowl, Matt Henry and Mitchell McClenaghan ripped through the Sri Lankan batting line-up leaving the islanders reeling at 81-6.
Probing, disciplined spells of bowling from the entire attack ensured that the visitors were dismissed for a paltry 117 in just 28 overs. What’s even more impressive for the home side, is that they were able to achieve this without three of their frontline seamers. Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Adam Milne were all unavailable for selection for this particular ODI – a great sign for the longevity of New Zealand cricket. Most of the top ODI nations could only dream of having such quality and depth available for selection.
The moment of the series so far, however, came from Martin Guptill who brutally smashed the Sri Lankan attack to all parts of the Hagley Oval as he rocketed to 93 off just 30 balls, helping his side chase down the required 118 in just 8.2 overs. The Black Cap opener managed to hit nine fours and eight sixes and looked at times as though he may threaten AB de Villier’s 31-ball hundred – the current world record.
This New Zealand ODI side have been nothing short of incredible since their memorable World Cup run earlier in the year. Expect them to grow from strength-to-strength as they move forward in this series and indeed into 2016.
What can we say about the wounded Lions from Sri Lanka? Sure they’re not quite used to these conditions and they’re without their premier quick bowler for what looks like the remainder of the series. But surely they can muster more than this? Since the retirements of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, they’ve just not been the same side.
They’ve lost the stability that they once had at the top of the order. The muscular exterior that protected a soft, vulnerable middle and lower order is no longer in place and it’s showing. Not even the evergreen Tillakaratne Dilshan could do anything the keep the New Zealanders at bay. They don’t even have anyone else they can call on to the rectify the batting issues they've been experiencing.
The only real change they could make would be to bring Ajantha Mendis back into the side. He provides an attacking option with plenty of variation, however, he can be quite expensive, as was the case in the first ODI. A lot of the promise he showed in the early part of his career has disappeared; although he does still show flashes of his mesmeric talent every so often. It’s a risk I feel the Sri Lankan management have to take heading into what could prove to be the decisive ODI.
They will also need a better showing from their captain and talisman, Angelo Matthews. The big hitting Colombo native has struggled in the ODI segment of the tour thus far, only managing 17 runs in two innings whilst conceding as many runs as he’s scored in the only over he’s bowled. It’s time for the big man to step up, otherwise, he may well find himself under pressure moving forward.
Verdict: Brendon McCullum Top New Zealand Batsman 3/1
New Zealand should really win this game, but with the odds at 2/9 punters will find no value at all. Instead, back the belligerent Brendon McCullum to top score against a struggling bowling line-up on Wednesday evening. The Black Caps’ captain will smell blood, no doubt letting loose in a bid to take the game away from the opposition early on.
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