Buoyant New Zealand seek encore
Match factsFriday September 4
Start time 19.00 (13.30 GMT)
The last statement Daniel Vettori made after New Zealand snapped their winless streak on tour with a tense victory on Wednesday was that there was still a game to go to clinch the short series. Vettori knows how much confidence his side can take from anything they win on tour.
It was refreshing to see his face light up as he ran towards hat-trick hero Jacob Oram when New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by three runs. It has been a difficult tour for a side inexperienced in subcontinental conditions but the change in personnel for the Twenty20s seems to have infused life.
There is no ignoring the key role Vettori himself played, slowing his pace and teasing with his loop to take 2 for 11 in four overs in a Man-of-the-Match effort, but this was a victory fashioned by more than one or two individuals and that gave Vettori the most pleasure. The batting was shaky but the fielding exceptional, proving decisive in the outcome. A series win beckons, if New Zealand can keep their cool again.
For Sri Lanka, this was their third straight loss in this format, starting from the ICC World Twenty20 final. In all three defeats the batting has been a worry, especially the lack of contributions from the middle and lower-middle order. Kumar Sangakkara was left to rue another batting collapse after Tillakaratne Dilshan's amazing attack on New Zealand's bowlers set them on the way to victory. Dilshan aside, Sri Lanka had enough batting firepower but fell to a flurry of loose shots and were not able to forge partnerships. Sangakkara has put the pressure on his batsmen and demanded they evaluate themselves before the final game.
Form guideSri Lanka LLLWW
New Zealand WLLWL
Watch out for...Ross Taylor, who remains New Zealand's cleanest hitter of the ball and showed his prowess with five fours and a six on Wednesday. Although not as breathtaking as Dilshan's innings, it was Taylor's knock that helped New Zealand to 141. With runs not forthcoming from Jacob Oram this tour, the visitors need Taylor to come up with the goods especially if the opening pair of Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder again fails to get going.
Mahela Jayawardene was run out by a superb direct his from Ryder in the first game, and that wicket set in motion a succession of dismissals. Jayawardene is in good enough form to play a match-winning hand - a couple sixes during training were a reminder of that - and he knows just how important runs from him are.
Team newsIt is unlikely New Zealand will make any changes given that the unit they fielded on Wednesday won them their first match on tour. The lower-middle order was shaken up by Lasith Malinga, but the management should keep faith in them. Grant Elliott will keep Neil Broom on his toes.
New Zealand: (probable) 1 Brendon McCullum (wk), 2 Jesse Ryder, 3 Martin Guptill, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Jacob Oram, 6 Neil Broom/Grant Elliott, 7 Peter McGlashan (wk), 8 Daniel Vettori (capt), 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Shane Bond, 11 Ian Butler
Sri Lanka's batting let them down but they have no specialist middle-order players on the bench. Mahela Udawatte is primarily an opener, so Sri Lanka aren't likely to change their current combination. The bowlers all did well, which means Isuru Udana and Kaushal Lokuarachchi should still warm the bench.
Sri Lanka: (probable) 1 Sanath Jayasuriya, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (capt & wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Chamara Kapugedera, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Gihan Rupasinghe, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Malinga Bandara, 10 Ajantha Mendis, 11 Lasith Malinga.
Stats and Trivia
- Malinga has moved into fifth place in the list of leading wicket-takers in Twenty20 internationals.
- Taylor's 60 was his third half-century in Twenty20 internationals and he is New Zealand's second-highest run-scorer in this format after McCullum.
"A lot of guys don't have the baggage of the Test series and another win now will hopefully give us some momentum for the rest of the tour, and confidence for everyone. That's the most important thing in cricket."
Vettori knows just what self-belief can do for a team
"He's always been a good Twenty20 bowler and knows what he's doing. He's the one we have to really look at, how we're going to score singles off him. We're going to be talking about that."
Sangakkara knows Sri Lanka face a big challenge against Vettori.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo