During the build-up for the World Cup in England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka are two sides who were flying under the radar. While the Kiwis did manage to cause a flutter by beating India in their warm-up match, they were quickly brought back down to earth as the West Indies batsmen plundered them all over the park.
Sri Lanka on the other hand, are a bundle of surprises with the sheer amount of changes they have made while naming their World Cup squad. The lack of strength and depth in their ranks was thoroughly exposed as they succumbed to back-to-back losses in their warm-up fixtures against South Africa and Australia.
New Zealand vs Sri Lanka, 3rd Match
Sophia Gardens, Cardiff (3:00 pm IST)
Played – 98
New Zealand wins – 48
Sri Lanka wins – 41
Tied – 1
No results – 8
The Kiwis have always had a well-defined philosophy when it comes to the manner in which they play the game. The openers go hard at the top, with Williamson and Taylor anchoring the middle-order. The likes of Colin de Grandhomme will have the onus of finishing the game. In the bowling department, a lot will depend on how Trent Boult and Tim Southee perform with the new ball in hand.
Whatever tactics they had prior to the tournament, has been torn to shreds for a fresh approach with the number of changes which the selectors have made in the squad. It now remains to be seen whether the 15-man squad have gelled together enough to trouble the big teams in the tournament as a collective unit.
Trent Boult (New Zealand): If the warm-up match between India and Bangladesh was anything to go by, the pitch in Cardiff will provide some assistance to the seamers with the new ball. There is no one more dangerous in world cricket right now than Trent Boult, when the white ball is moving around. If there is some movement around, the experienced left-arm pacer will be licking his lips against an unsettled Sri Lankan batting unit.
Angelo Mathews (Sri Lanka): As one of the senior players in the squad, there will be a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of Mathews to anchor the middle order for the Lankans. The batting unit is still unsettled with many players who haven’t played a game for a long time. With his experience, he will have to pick up the mantle and ensure that the Lankans manage to post a competitive score on the board.
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Kane Williamson(c), Ross Taylor, Tom Blundell(wk), Colin de Grandhomme, James Neesham, Ish Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne(c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perrera, Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Pradeep, Jeffrey Vandersay.