After the enthralling contest between bat and ball in the two-match Test series, it’s time for some slam bam T20Is. New Zealand and Sri Lanka are scheduled to lock horns in the opening encounter on Sunday, September 1 at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium. The Black Caps slumped to a defeat in the first Test in Galle, but gained back confidence after the thumping win in Colombo.
However, T20s are completely different ballgame. As far as head to head is concerned, the Kiwis have won eight out of the 16 matches. However, in the last three matches, New Zealand have come out trumps on all three instances. Lanka’s last win over the opposition came way back in March 2014. In Pallekele, the visiting team is yet to open their account though out of three matches.
Pitch and Conditions
It isn’t a venue that favours the chasing team. Out of 14 completed T20Is, 10 matches were won by the side, batting first. Hence, just to be on the safer side, the teams should be batting first. But the average score of 167 suggests that a fairly high-scoring game is in the offing. The weather is a little tricky. In the morning, the heavens are likely to open up, though the percentage will come down during match time.
Avishka Fernando was in excellent form in the ODI series against Bangladesh. The right-hander is likely to open the batting with Niroshan Dickwella. Kusal Mendis lends solidity to the batting and he should be batting at three. Kusal Perera is someone, who can play the big shots from the word go.
Jayasuriya and Shanaka’s role in the middle will be critical as well. Not to undermine Isuru Udana’s prowess with the bat. In the bowling area, the hosts’ fate will depend upon Malinga and Dananjaya. Kumara has bowled with fire of late and it remains to be seen if he gets a chance in T20s or not.
Avishka Fernando, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Shehan Jayasuriya, Dasun Shanaka, Isuru Udana, Akila Dananjaya, Lasith Malinga (C), Lahiru Kumara/Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan
Tim Seifert tasted success in the T20I series against India as an opener. But in the warm-up match, he came at number three with Guptill and Munro being the openers. Ross Taylor scored a 34-ball 53 in the same match and his role will be very important, bearing in mind the experience he brings in.
Tom Bruce has been excellent in the domestic circuit and now he needs to translate the same at the highest level. Sodhi and Scott Kuggelejin flourished, having gotten three and four wickets. Southee’s temperament will also be put to test as he has previously led in only four international encounters.
Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Tim Seifert (wk), Ross Taylor, Tom Bruce/Daryl Mitchell, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Scott Kuggelejin, Tim Southee (C), Lockie Ferguson, Ish Sodhi
Probable Top Performers
Avishka Fernando – Sri Lanka| Colin Munro – New Zealand
TV – Sony ESPN, Sony ESPN HD
Online– Sony LIV
Match Timings – 19:00 IST and 19:00 local
The prediction is for New Zealand to win the match.
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