An adventure breaking new ground
Match FactsSaturday, May 22, Start time 1530 (1930 GMT)
Sunday, May 23, Start time 1200 (1600 GMT)
The Big PictureIt is tempting to look at these matches - two Twenty20 internationals between Sri Lanka and New Zealand, being played in the USA - as precisely the reason why tournaments like IPL prosper. Twenty20 is the best vehicle for the globalisation of the game, which somehow - rightly or wrongly - seems to be a big concern for the administrators. The ICC sees the USA, with a team full of Asians and a country boasting enough immigrants to constitute a crowd for a match, as a prospective market. Since the two teams had been to the Caribbean, why not have them stop over on their way back.
Yet, on another level, there is much to suggest that this series is yet another example of the ICC sanctioning an ill-timed series, one without context. It hasn't been even a week since the end of the World Twenty20, and the fatigue, even for the slam-bang format, was evident among the audience during the bilateral series earlier this week between West Indies and South Africa. It would have been foolish to expect anything but in the first place: there is only so much Twenty20 people can take.
In any event, it is going to be a huge weekend for cricket in the USA, especially as a venue. Already the series has been cut short because of poor floodlighting. It is the first time two Test teams are playing in America, and how the matches go from an organisational point of view will have a bearing on the future of international cricket in the USA.
There has also been concern over whether New Zealand and Sri Lanka, small countries with small diaspora, will be able to attract enough supporters, leave alone taking the game to the natives, which should be the real aim. The onus will be on the teams to play attractive cricket; it is not easy to make a pitching-obsessed nation fall in love with bowling. They can't turn up jaded, like West Indies and South Africa did, three days after the World Twenty20 final.
Form guide (most recent first)New Zealand LWLWW
Sri Lanka LWLWW
Watch out for...Mahela Jayawardene and Daniel Vettori are the complete antitheses of hitters and pitchers from baseball. If they are both at their best, who knows the Americans might just see the light.
The pitch and conditions are a complete unknown. "There's a New Zealand groundsman here looking after it [the pitch] and preparing it," said Ross Taylor. "To be honest, we don't really know what to expect." Isolated thunderstorms are also forecast for the weekend.
Between the World Twenty20 and now, New Zealand have lost Jesse Ryder to another injury, and Shane Bond for good. Gareth Hopkins has a knee injury so Brendon McCullum is likely to keep wicket, while offspinning allrounder Rob Nicol is set to make his debut.
New Zealand (possible): 1 Brendon McCullum (wk), 2 Aaron Redmond, 3 Martin Guptill, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Scott Styris, 6 Jacob Oram, 7 Daniel Vettori (capt.), 8 Rob Nicol , 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Ian Butler, 11 Andy McKay.
Sri Lanka should retain their combination from the World Twenty20 before Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Sanath Jayasuriya take a break.
Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Mahela Jayawardene 2 Sanath Jayasuriya, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (capt. & wk), 4 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 5 Chamara Kapugedera, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Chinthaka Jayasinghe, 8 Thissara Perera, 9 Suraj Randiv, 10 Thilan Thushara, 11 Lasith Malinga.
Stats and trivia
- Brendon McCullum, at 1081, is the highest run-getter in T20Is. Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, with 743 and 711 runs, are numbers four and five on the list.
- New Zealand have won four out of their seven games against Sri Lanka, including their latest victory in the World Twenty20.
Quotes"Miami is a new place for all of us. Most of the guys haven't been to the States. We've had a look around, went to a baseball game. It's something different, going out of your routine of playing against top nations in venues you're quite familiar with. It will be good fun."
Mahela Jayawardene is looking forward to the double-header.
"We've been waiting a long time for this. This is part of what we've been calling Destination USA. We took, with the board's help, a view to try and bring in the best teams in the world and show that the United States is open for business as far as cricket is concerned."
Don Lockerbie, chief executive of USA Cricket Association, can't wait for the games to begin.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.