Rain a threat, new rules a challenge
November 6, 2012
Start time 1430 local (0900 GMT)
For a side that has lost eight of its previous nine ODIs, New Zealand can take a lot of heart from the way they played in the second match of the series. The batting, albeit a touch too slow at the start, proceeded along the lines the captain Ross Taylor had wanted it to: preserve wickets for a late push. Probably that is an approach we might see more of with the latest tweak in rules. The end of the bowling Powerplay could induce sides to start safely against the two new balls and have key batsmen waiting to take advantage of the last 15 overs, including five of the batting Powerplay. That, combined with only four men in the deep in non-Powerplay overs, could also mean more successful chases of high targets.
Even an astute captain such as Mahela Jayawardene seemed short of ideas when Taylor started to target his favoured deep-midwicket region on Sunday. Under the old rule, with five men allowed in the deep, containing a batsman such as Taylor, with a well-known hitting area, wouldn't have been as difficult. But having a deep midwicket, a deep square leg and a long-on would have left only one fielder on the boundary for the region from long-off to fine leg, a pretty big risk to take. It will be revealing to watch how both captains rotate their fields to tackle free-flowing batsmen over the course of this series.
How much of this series actually happens will be down to how long the rain stays away. Some of it is expected on the morning of the match to give way to a cloudy afternoon only to return in the evening. We have already had a washout, a no-result and a match decided by the Duckworth-Lewis method so far this tour. The weather was overcast today with a few spots of drizzle.
(Completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka : WLLLW
New Zealand: LLLWL
Player to watch
Some of the criticism directed at Lasith Malinga after the World Twenty20 final was not only unfair, it was also vitriolic. While there is no doubt that the two new balls have dented his effectiveness to some extent, he still remains a unique bowler, and one who can still cause a lot of damage. His opening spell to Rob Nicol on Sunday was a superb display of accurate, controlled outswing bowling.
While Malinga was taking the new ball away from the right-handers, Trent Boult was consistently bringing it back in at sharp pace. He deserved more than the one wicket he got. He'll hope for better luck tomorrow.
Taylor and Andrew Ellis have received treatment for gastroenteritis. While Taylor is expected to be cleared to play, Ellis is doubtful and if he misses out, Jacob Oram could take his place. Brendon McCullum, who missed the previous game with a stiff back, will be assessed before the match. It will be difficult for New Zealand to leave out BJ Watling, who made 55 on Sunday, if McCullum comes back. Tom Latham could be the one sitting out.
New Zealand (possible) 1 Rob Nicol, 2 Tom Latham/Brendon McCullum, 3 BJ Watling (wk), 4 Ross Taylor (capt), 5 Kane Williamson, 6 James Franklin, 7 Andrew Ellis/Jacob Oram, 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Trent Boult
Sri Lanka could go in unchanged, although they might want to hand Akila Dananjaya his ODI debut at some point in the series.
Sri Lanka (possible) 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Lahiru Thirimanne, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Jeevan Mendis, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Rangana Herath, 11 Lasith Malinga
Stats and trivia
- The highest successful chase in Pallekele is 192 by Australia against Sri Lanka in 2011
- Ross Taylor's century against Pakistan in the 2011 World Cup is the only one by a non-Sri Lanka batsman in Pallekele
"They've got a lot of experience at the top there, and if we get them three or four down for 100-120, we'll be ahead of the game."
"It's tough for some of the bowlers, because if you look at all these new rules, it has challenged the bowlers over the years. The equipment the batsmen use is more sophisticated as well."
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo