New Zealand vs Sri Lanka, Only T20I, Preview: Last chance for the Islanders to register a win on the tour

The Kiwis have struggled in this format of late winning only one of last 10 matches.

Tim Southee
Tim Southee. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

New Zealand and Sri Lanka will conclude the tour with a solitary T20 International on Thursday at the Eden Park in Auckland. It really doesn’t make any sense for the teams to lock horns in a single game of a format. Moreover, it doesn’t even qualify as a series and such scheduling comes more under the scanner when one comes to know that the 50-over World Cup is only four months away. Shouldn’t the teams have opted for a five-match ODI series instead of this meaningless T20I? Well, that debate is for later as nothing could be changed now.

Sri Lanka will take this as an opportunity to end the tour on a high as they have the specific T20 players in form who performed in the ODI series as well. The likes of Kusal Perera and Thisara Perera ripped apart the Kiwi bowlers and will be expected to do the same. Their batting has been the problem on this tour and with a trimmed format, they might just express themselves a bit better.

Kane Williamson has been rested for this match and Tim Southee takes over the mantle of a relatively inexperienced side. Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls should take more responsibility with the willow and an injury to Jimmy Neesham has handicapped New Zealand. Being the home side, they will always start as the favourites.

Team Combinations

New Zealand

Martin Guptill and Colin Munro will form one of the destructive pairs in the T20Is with Glenn Phillips and experienced Ross Taylor. Henry Nicholls is in great form while Tim Seifert is coming off a decent Super Smash stint. Mitchell Santner will be under focus as it is his comeback game at the highest level. Doug Bracewell will also get the chance after Neesham was ruled out while the skipper Southee, Ish Sodhi and Lockie Ferguson are the other bowlers.

Probable XI: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Tim Seifert (wk), Mitchell Santner, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee (c), Ish Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s playing XI is tough to predict as the squad is a lot different compared to their last T20I. Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Mendis are likely to open with Kusal Perera batting at three. There could be a toss-up between Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya de Silva while the all-rounders Dasun Shanaka, Gunaratne and Thisara Perera look certain to play. Lasith Malinga and a promising youngster Kasun Rajitha will look after the pace attack.

Lakshan Sandakan will be the lone spinner given the Eden Park is full of runs while one of Lahiru and Pradeep will make it to the XI. Seekkuge Prasanna can also play given his credentials to bat lower down the order.

Probable XI: Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal/Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka, Asela Gunaratne, Thisara Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Malinga (c), Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara/Nuwan Pradeep.

Focus will be on

Mitchell Santner (New Zealand)

Santner is coming back after a long injury layoff and the selectors will have one eye on his performance. The left-arm spinner played Super Smash to prove his fitness and his four overs will play a crucial role in this game as well. With World Cup not far, Santner will be keen on making an impact in his first game for New Zealand in ten months.

Thisara Perera (Sri Lanka)

Not for the first time on this tour, Thisara Perera will be tipped to take Sri Lanka home. Although he has struggled with the ball, the all-rounder has made up more than expected with the willow. If he carries his ODI form into this game, the visitors will definitely come out victorious and end a tough tour on a high.

Head to Head

Matches – 15 | NZ won – 7 | SL won – 6 | Tie – 1 | NR – 1

Stat Attack

1 – New Zealand have won only a T20 International in last 10 matches.

Broadcast Details

TV – Star Sports Select 1 and Star Sports Select 1 HD

Live Streaming – Hotstar

Match Timings – 11.30 IST; 19:00 local

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