Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka’s T20 captain, has said that he wants the players to express themselves. The team has done exactly the same in the three-match series against New Zealand at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium. The Lankans fought tooth and nail in both the encounter after putting on reasonable scores on the board. But they couldn’t have the last laugh and are now 0-2 down.
The third contest is a dead rubber, but the hosts will want to display the same approach. For the Black Caps, they have made an incredible comeback following their heavy defeat in the Galle Test. In both T20Is, the Kiwis lost early wickets, but the middle-order bailed out the side and scripted the wins. The visitors have been plagued by a few injury concerns, but it hasn’t turned detrimental.
Pitch and Conditions
The track in Pallekele behaved pretty similarly in the first two matches. And it’s not expected to change much in the dead rubber. The batters have had their say, but the strip has also shown nature of slowing down. The likes of Akila Dananjaya and Mitchell Santner have looked threatening. As far as the weather is concerned, there could be a passing shower with the temperature around 22 degrees Celsius.
The Lankans may bring some changes in the inconsequential match. Lahiru Kumara hasn’t got a game thus far and he may replace Isuru Udana in the lineup. Lakshan Sandakan was tidy the other night, though he couldn’t make a breakthrough and deserves another chance. Wanindu Hasaranga has impressed after his debut in the first T20I and he’ll be keen to end the series on a positive note.
Skipper Malinga made the breakthroughs in the opening encounter, but he sprayed the ball around last time around. In the batting department, Kusal Mendis has been the standout performer. Danushka Gunathilaka can also be given a chance. Kusal Perera is yet to get going though. Avishka Fernando made amends after failing in the first match. Dickwella delivered in both games as well.
Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera (wk), Avishka Fernando, Niroshan Dickwella, Dasun Shanaka, Shehan Jayasuriya/Danushka Gunathilaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana/Lahiru Kumara, Akila Dananjaya, Lasith Malinga (C), Lakshan Sandakan
The visiting team lately has strained to put forth a fit eleven. After Lockie Ferguson was ruled out due to a fractured thumb, it was the turn of Martin Guptill to return home. The latter couldn’t bat in the last match after pulling a stomach muscle while fielding. Tom Bruce, played a crucial part in the run-chase in the second T20I, but he picked up a knee problem midway through his knock.
Hamish Rutherford, playing for Worcestershire in the T20 Blast, has been called upon as a cover. Fortunately for Southee’s men, Ross Taylor has been deemed fit to play after he missed the last match owing to a hip injury. A chunk of the credit of New Zealand’s triumph goes to Colin de Grandhomme, who’s played a couple of responsible innings to take his team over the line.
Colin Munro, Tim Seifert (wk), Scott Kuggelejin, Colin de Grandhomme, Ross Taylor, Tom Bruce/Hamish Rutherford, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee (C), Seth Rance, Ish Sodhi
Probable Top Performers
Avishka Fernando – Sri Lanka| Tim Seifert – New Zealand
TV – Sony SIX, Sony SIX 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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