The second T20I between Sri Lanka and New Zealand was full of twists and turns but in the end, the visitors stunned the home team. As a result, the Black Caps won the 3-match series convincingly which makes the final game a dead rubber. Till now both the teams have played out a couple of nerve-wracking thrillers but unfortunately, the Lankan Lions have finished on the wrong side. It will be a bitter pill to swallow but they will be happy to avoid a whitewash when they play the 3rd T20I at Pallekele.
The island team will be disappointed with their performances. They had their moments in the series but their poor fielding has let them down on most occasions. It will be fair to say that their youngsters have failed to step-up in an important series. Even their team selection has been baffling as they have not utilized their resources wisely. So it is their last chance to get their act together and pick up a win before their overseas tour.
On the other hand, the Kiwis have done incredibly well without the services of their regular skipper, Kane Williamson. It seems that they have decoded the winning formula in foreign shores. They have been able to create chances in the direst situations. It can be termed as a memorable victory as they beat the opposition in their turf. They will be looking to continue their winning momentum ahead of their home series against England.
Being the senior member of the team Kusal Perara should take more responsibility of opening the innings with newbie Avishka Fernando. Danushka Gunathilaka is most likely to replace the injured Kusal Mendis. Niroshan Dickwella needs to repay the faith shown by the selectors. Dasun Shanaka is having a torrid time in the field but might get a go.
Isuru Udana has made most of his opportunities and his slow ball variations make him a valuable asset. Akila Dananjaya has been effective with his wicket-taking skills but he needs good support from other spinners. Lasith Malinga has been off-color so the team should consider an additional pacer in the side.
Kusal Perera (wk), Avishka Fernando, Danushka Gunathilaka, Niroshan Dickwella, Dasun Shanaka, Kasun Rajitha, Wanindu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana/Lahiru Kumara, Akila Dananjaya, Lasith Malinga (C), Lakshan Sandakan
With Martin Guptill injured the opening pair will consist of Tim Seifert and Colin Munro. Tim Seifert can be a game-changer at top of the order. Ross Taylor is set to return after missing the last game owing to hip concern. Due to his hot run of form, Colin de Grandhomme will continue at the No.4 position. His presence in the field will definitely scare the opposition bowlers as he is capable of clearing boundaries at will. Hamish Rutherford might take unfit Tom Bruce, who is being monitored.
Both Seth Rance and Daryl Mitchell have chipped in with useful contributions at lower down the order. Mitchell Santner has efficiently played the role of a finisher but he needs to improve his bowling. Ish Sodhi should take more wickets in the middle-overs. Tim Southee has been exceptional with his captaincy and has led the bowling unit from the front. His bowling partner Scott Kuggeleijn has found it difficult to control the run-flow but he is likely to retain his place.
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.
The focus will be on
Kusal Perera (Sri Lanka)
In his initial days, the left-hander was termed the like to like replacement for Sanath Jayasuriya. Kusal Perera can change the course of the game with his attacking brand of cricket. Unlike his idol, he has been inconsistent in his trade. Now with the series done and dusted he might play freely as there will be no added pressure on his mind.
Colin Munro ( New Zealand)
New Zealand cricket is never short of power hitters but very few can match the damaging impact of Colin Munro. The southpaw can take apart the best of the bowling attacks and his 3 centuries in this format is the validation of the point. Since the start of the year, he has been struggling to put up a decent performance. It might be a do or die game for him as many youngsters are waiting in the wings.
Head to Head
Matches played – 18 | Sri Lanka won – 6 | New Zealand won – 10 | Tie – 1 | No result – 1
5 – Number of times Tm Southee has led Black Caps in T20s and the team has won all games under his leadership
14 – Number of T20s played by Lasith Malinga against New Zealand which is the most against any international side
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Match Timings – 19:00 PM IST and local
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