New Zealand's chance to start afresh before Tests
Amid monsoon torrents, relocated matches and stomach bugs, New Zealand have so far only sunk further into their rut in Sri Lanka. The second ODI was stopped by rain just as it was building to a climax, but in the following matches, the visitors have been thoroughly outclassed. They have not been helped by the toss, which has fallen against them in two of the three matches, forcing them to contend with a wet ball after the evening rains arrived. But given their poor record in the recent past, the team will be sick of excuses.
New Zealand's batting has been competent at times, and their fast bowlers found decent movement in the fourth ODI in Hambantota, but they are yet to put on a complete performance in the series. New Zealand have also spoken of the soft middle order of Sri Lanka, but have not taken more than three wickets in an innings. They will hope for better luck and more consistency for their quicks if they are to put Sri Lanka's less experienced batsmen under pressure.
Having secured the series, Sri Lanka don't have much to gain from the final ODI apart from momentum and form ahead of the Test series. Each of Sri Lanka's big three batsmen have been among the runs, and Test bowlers Nuwan Kulasekara and Rangana Herath have also enjoyed the series. They are likely to rotate a few of the fringe members in the squad for some game time.
(Completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka: WWWLL
New Zealand: LLLLL
Players to watch
Dinesh Chandimal played and missed plenty of times in his 43 on Saturday, but there were also sparkling strokes amid the nervy ones. He is in the Test squad, but does not have a place in the middle order. If he opens the batting again in the fifth ODI, and is successful, he could put pressure on Test opener Tharanga Paranavitana who has the least secure spot in the batting order.
Tim Southee got the ball to move so far in the air and off the seam in the last match, Sri Lanka's top order had no hope of edging it. If Southee is luckier, he could be the bowler to bare the hosts' middle order by dismissing the top four quickly.
Pitch and conditions
The forecast predicts rain in the evening, and if the series so far is anything to go by, the teams can expect the final match to be interrupted at some point. In that scenario, the toss is important once again, and the team who wins it will likely want to bowl first. However, as New Zealand proved on Saturday, there is still plenty for the fast bowlers in the Hambantota pitch at night.
Sri Lanka will be keen to give their youngsters a pressure-free dead rubber in which to hone their skills, meaning Akila Dananjaya could be in line for an ODI debut. Expect Shaminda Eranga to get a match as well.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1. Upul Tharanga, 2. Dinesh Chandimal, 3. Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4. Mahela Jayawardene (c), 5. Angelo Mathews, 6. Lahiru Thirimanne, 7. Jeevan Mendis, 8. Thisara Perera, 9. Shaminda Eranga, 10. Akila Dananjaya, 11. Lasith Malinga
Adam Milne could not produce the kind of pace he is capable of in the last ODI, and he may get another chance to impress on Monday. There is a small chance Tom Latham will return to the top order as well.
New Zealand (probable): 1. Rob Nicol/ Tom Latham, 2. BJ Watling (wk), 3. Brendon McCullum, 4. Ross Taylor (c), 5. Kane Williamson, 6. James Franklin, 7. Nathan McCullum, 8. Andrew Ellis, 9. Tim Southee, 10. Trent Boult, 11. Adam Milne
Stats and trivia
- Dinesh Chandimal averages 53.39 outside Asia from 25 matches, but only 17.05 in it, from 21 games.
- New Zealand have not won an ODI series against top eight opposition since November 2009.
"One day cricket, especially with the rule changes, suits allrounders better. We bat deep, and guys like Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera and Angelo Mathews aren't just half-bowlers. They are actually very good bowlers to have in your side."
Mahela Jayawardene on the advantage of having allrounders in ODIs
"We're getting pretty used to staying switched on through rain breaks. It seems to happen three or four times every game."
Ross Taylor on how his side are growing accustomed to the routine of cricket in Sri Lanka, in November
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri Lanka