The cricketing action in the island nation keeps getting better and better as the Black Caps and Lankan Lions played out an engrossing T20 tie at Pallekele. It was a game where both sides threw punches at each other at different times. In the end, the visitors held their nerves and took an early lead in the 3-match series. Going into the second game at the same venue the fans will be hoping to witness another thrilling encounter.
The Sri Lankan team missed a couple of tricks that took the game away from them. Especially in the fielding, the islanders dropped catches at important stages which came to haunt them later in the match. Though the team showed good character in the absence of some seniors they let off their opponents far too many times. Still, they will take the loss on their chin and will be focusing on their skills to level the series.
It was a brave act from the Kiwis as they wounded the Lions in their den. Most of the players chipped in useful contributions whenever the side was in choppy waters. They made the opposition pay for their mistakes and completed a stiff run-chase successfully. Now they have a golden opportunity to kill the contest by winning the second tie. It may be difficult but they certainly have the ammunition to script a historic win.
Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis will be looking to provide a blazing start and especially the former is due for a big one. Avishka Fernando is a potential match-winner at top of the order. Niroshan Dickwella and Shehan Jayasuriya will be taking care of the middle-order. The latter can play big shots at will and his off-spin bowling is quite handy.
Dasun Shanaka and Isuru Udana will be trusted with the all-rounder’s tag. Akila Dananjaya will be leading the spin department along with Wanidu Hasaranga who had a fruitful outing on the last game. As a captain and spearhead of the bowling line-up, Lasith Malinga will be the key player for the Lankan team. Kasun Rajitha is probably going to make way for Lahiru Kumara.
Kusal Perara, Kusal Mendis, Avishka Fernando, Niroshan Dickwella (WK), Shehan Jayasuriya, Isuru Udana, Dasun Shanaka, Akila Dananjaya, Wanidu Hasaranga, Lasith Malinga (C), Kasun Rajitha/Lahiru Kumara.
The underperforming opening pair of Martin Guptill and Colin Munro will be desperate for some runs under their belt. Tim Seifert will be trying to forget his scratchy innings in the previous game. Again Ross Taylor will be the backbone of the batting line-up and he has an in-form Colin de Grandhomme for company. Both of them are known for their power hitting.
Todd Astle might make the playing XI at the expense of Seth Rance. Daryl Mitchell and Mitchell Santner are valuable assets because of their multi-dimensional skillset. Ish Sodhi will be controlling the middle-overs. Skipper, Tim Southee will be a lethal weapon with his new-ball spells. He will be leading the pace attack with Scott Kuggeleijn.
Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Tim Seifert (WK), Ross Taylor, Seth Rance/Todd Astle, Mitchell Santner, Daryl Mitchell, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee (C), Ish Sodhi, Scott Kuggeleijn.
The focus will be on
Avishka Fernando (Sri Lanka)
The youngster is an emerging talent from the island nation. He was the lone bright spot in the country’s dull World Cup campaign. A month ago he stroked a fluent 80 against the Bangla Tigers and now he will be keen to repeat the heroics against Kiwis. He can play shots all around the park and his batting grace is a thing of beauty.
Colin de Grandhomme (New Zealand)
In the last couple of months, the all-rounder has been an unsung hero of the team. He raised his game in the 2019 World Cup and since then he has been delivering match-winning performances on a regular basis. Even in the last game, he changed the tempo of the innings with his attacking mindset. If he gets going then it will be a hard toil for the Lankan bowlers.
Head to head
Matches played – 17 | Sri Lanka won – 6 | New Zealand won – 9 | Tie – 1 | No result – 1
39 – Batting average recorded by Ross Taylor in T20Is in Sri Lanka which is the highest among all the countries he has batted
6 – Losing streak of Sri Lanka in T20Is
TV – Sony six, Sony six HD
Online – SonyLiv
Match Timings – 19:00 PM IST and local
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