New Zealand seized back the momentum from Sri Lanka with a great Test win but that will count for little when the tour shifts to the T20I portion.
Both sides will be trying to assess where they are in their progress towards next year’s T20I World Cup.
Saturday 31 August 2019 | Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Kandy| 15:30
To WinSri Lanka
Lasith Malinga will now be totally devoted to T20I cricket for Sri Lanka having retired from ODIs after the 2019 World Cup. Malinga will captain the side and has proven he can still have a huge impact in the shortest format of the game.
The squad at his disposal is a mixed bag of youth and experience. One of the younger players with a bright future is Avishka Fernando who delighted with a World Cup hundred but is yet to really take off in T20Is.
Sri Lanka are without talismanic allrounder Thisara Perera who has done so much for the team in white-ball cricket.
Bad-boy opener Danushka Gunathilaka gets another opportunity to show that he has turned over a new leaf with a recall to the squad. Sri Lanka have suspended Gunathilaka no fewer than three times over a variety of code of conduct issues. The weight of his runs keeps earning him a way back into the team, but with Sri Lanka eager to clean up their image, no further incidents will be tolerated.
Skipper Kane Williamson has been rested for the T20I series and the squad will instead be lead by fast bowler Tim Southee.
Most of the players in the group have a good shot of making the T20 World Cup squad but competition for places will be fierce.
The Black Caps squad is loaded with allrounders with skipper Southee and Lockie Ferguson the only frontline seamers included in the group. Scott Kuggeleijn and Seth Rance offer seam options but both are not exactly express pace. Daryl Mitchell and Colin de Grandhomme are genuine medium pace. De Grandhomme offers explosive finishing power with the bat though.
Tom Bruce was the player of the tournament in New Zealand’s domestic T20 competition but he needs to show he can produce the same kind of performances on the international stage.
If Colin Munro gets going the ground in Kandy is likely to prove too small to contain him, he will be the Black Caps best shot at victory.
Verdict: Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s knowledge of conditions should be the difference.
Written by James Richardson for Hollywoodbets.