Kiwi batsmen versus Lankan spinners in next CT clash
Cardiff: Their morale sky high after a 2-1 series win over England, New Zealand would look to carry their good form into the Champions Trophy when they clash with Sri Lanka in a Group A match here on Sunday.
Sri Lanka have an overwhelming record of winning 10 of their last 11 ODI matches and six in a row against the Kiwis but the Black Caps would back themselves to reverse the trend particularly when their batsmen are in superb touch.
Opener Martin Guptill smashed two consecutive hundreds against England and Ross Taylor hit half-centuries in all the three matches of the series.
Skipper Brendon McCullum on his day can demolish any attack, so much of the Kiwis` fortunes would depend on how their top-order performs.
The Kiwis are also perhaps the best acclimatised side after hosts England having spent some good amount of time here. They know the conditions well which will help them sort out their team combination quickly.
However, while against England they faced a pace-pronged attack, in Sri Lanka they face a side which is full of wily spinners, led by Sachitra Senanayake. Jeevan Mendis, Rangana Herath are other specialist spinner while Tillakaratne Dilshan can also be handy.
That spin attack would be key to Sri Lanka`s performance even as Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara can do the job in helpful conditions.
Even Kiwi coach Mike Hesson has acknowledged this fact.
"We could conceivably be facing 30-35 overs of spin. We need to be proactive against it," Hesson said ahead of the clash.
The big worry for Sri Lanka is their batting. Neither the top-order nor the middle order batsmen are in good form. Mahela Jaywardene and Kumar Sangakkara never looked in good touch during the recent IPL.
Skipper Angelo Mathewes too had to sit and and give up captaincy of his IPL side due to poor form.
It means that the Kiwi attack, to be led by young paceman Mitchell McClenaghan, will bowl at a bunch of batsmen who are short on confidence.
Tim Southee, Kyle Mills, Dough Bracewell form the pace department while Nathan McCullum will look after the spin department.
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (C), Doug Bracewell, Ian Butler, Grant Elliott, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Colin Munro, Luke Ronchi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori, Kane Williamson.
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (C), Dinesh Chandimal, Dilhara Lokuhettige, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Mahela Jayawardene, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Jeevan Mendis, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Kumar Sangakkara, Sachithra Senanayake and Lahiru Thirimanne.
Match starts at 3 pm (IST).