McCullum unlikely to play on New Year's eve
December 31, 2015
Start time 1100 local (2200 GMT, previous day)
After Monday's Hagley Oval drubbing, Sri Lanka's interim coach called the match "humiliating" for his team. Of the many blows suffered by Sri Lanka so far in the ODI series, the fact that such a substantially depleted New Zealand side has still thrashed them, might be the most troubling. Tim Southee may return to the XI for this match, but Trent Boult remains unavailable. Kane Williamson and Adam Milne had also been left nursing injuries. Brendon McCullum, however, is unlikely to play the third ODI, having aggravated a back injury in the previous game.
Matt Henry, Mitchell McClenaghan and Martin Guptill have so far been the hosts' key performers, but matches have finished so quickly that the others have hardly had a chance to leave their mark. Henry Nicholls has not been put through a thorough test yet, and Ish Sodhi was needed only for three overs with the ball in the second match.
Sri Lanka are being hit by bad news almost on a daily basis now. They had just learned overnight that Lasith Malinga will not make the trip to New Zealand at all, thanks to a bone-related knee condition. This means Nuwan Kulasekara may be charged with leading the attack in a tour where he himself is straining to rediscover the swing and subtlety that once envenomed his medium pace. Meanwhile, the others in the attack are having their inexperience exposed. Dushmantha Chameera's short deliveries were a little predictable in Hamilton, and legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay was forced to bowl inside the Powerplay on debut, with a still-hard ball.
The New Zealand bowlers have simply had to hit the seam on a good length and await mistakes, with which the opposition have been lavishly forthcoming. The hosts keep saying that the visitors are due a good score soon. Increasingly, it seems like only a good start from Tillakaratne Dilshan would dig the top order out of trouble and help Sri Lanka stay alive.
(last five matches, most recent first)
New Zealand: WWLWL
Sri Lanka: LLWWW
In the spotlight
Ross Taylor had been in terrific form during the mid-year ODI series in England and Zimbabwe, but Sri Lanka sometimes seems a bogey team for him. He has played 23 ODI innings against them, and averages only 24.71. His nemesis Rangana Herath is not in the ODI squad, so Taylor will hope he can make his first substantial score of the tour in Nelson. That is if he gets the chance to bat.
Angelo Mathews's tactics have sometimes drawn criticism, but throughout his tenure at the helm, his batting has been exemplary. In the two years since taking the reins, he has been Sri Lanka's rock in the middle order - as capable of providing bruising finishes, as he is of sober recoveries. On this tour, New Zealand have kept tugging at a leg-side loophole in his game. They send balls at his ribs or his pads, and Mathews keeps being caught down the legside. The seamers will probably try that plan again in Nelson. Mathews' response will make for intriguing viewing.
With Danushka Gunathilaka having perished cheaply in both matches (though he was far from alone in this), Sri Lanka may consider pushing Kithuruwan Vithanage into the middle order, and displacing Gunathilaka from the side by opening with Lahiru Thirimanne. Sri Lanka may also opt to play with only one spinner on a fresh Nelson pitch as well. Vandersay is likeliest to miss out.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Danushka Gunathilaka/ Kithuruwan Vithanage , 3 Lahiru Thirimanne, 4 Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 5 Angelo Mathews (capt.), 6 Milinda Siriwardana, 7 Chamara Kapugedara, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Sachithra Senanayake, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Suranga Lakmal
Having picked Matt Henry for only the first two ODIs, New Zealand have opted to keep to that original plan instead of allowing their best bowler of the series so far continue in the ODIs. Henry now finds himself playing for Canterbury. Kane Williamson is expected to play after missing the two previous games with a knee problem. In all likelihood, he will captain the side. Tim Southee comes back into contention, and Adam Milne appears to have sufficiently recovered from his bruised heel.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Tom Latham 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Kane Williamson (capt.), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Henry Nicholls, 6 Mitchell Santner, 7 Luke Ronchi (wk), 8 Doug Bracewell, 9 Adam Milne, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Mitchell McClenaghan/Ish Sodhi
Pitch and conditions
The Saxton Oval pitch has been somewhat slower than the others in the country, but was still good for batting during the World Cup. The weather is expected to be fine, though a little cloudy. Temperatures are forecast to be in the low 20s.
Stats and trivia
- In the five ODIs at Saxton Oval so far, the team batting first has crossed 275 on every occasion.
- Milinda Siriwardana (78 runs) is the only batsman to have hit more runs for Sri Lanka than Nuwan Kulasekara (77 runs), so far in the series.
- Matt Henry had 8 wickets at an average of 10.25 in the two matches. Yet he is no longer in the squad
"We've put the ball in demanding areas and made them have to make some tough decisions. We build up dots and pressure. Kudos goes to our fielders being able to build up that pressure; stopping ones and making the batsmen second guess that quick single."
Fast bowler Mitchell McClenaghan on what has allowed New Zealand to keep Sri Lanka to such low scores in the opening ODIs
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando