Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 4th ODI, Hambantota November 9, 2012

New Zealand need bowlers to step up


Match facts

November 10, 2012
Start time 1430 local (0900 GMT)

Big Picture

Rain may have defined the cricket so far, yet, with two games to go, the series is placed as expected. New Zealand's batsmen have battled to good scores in both competed matches, but the visitors find themselves on the brink of a series defeat once more. That they have fielded second twice - once by their own election - has hampered their bowlers, who have had to contend with a wet ball.

New Zealand have also spoken of a "top heavy" Sri Lanka batting order, but they are yet to dismiss all three of Sri Lanka's old hands in an innings, and as Angelo Mathews proved with a sparkling 47-ball 54 not out, the middle order is by no means a cakewalk either. The visitors would do well not to jettison the conservative batting strategy that has seen them post competitive totals, but the bowlers must exploit the movement afforded them by the damp conditions to incite the top order collapse they have been aiming for.

Sri Lanka meanwhile, have little to change about their game. Lasith Malinga's return to form has ensured New Zealand's totals remain manageable despite the new rules that have disadvantaged the spinners, while the batting is yet to be put under serious pressure. They will however be missing their match-winner from the second ODI, as Tillakaratne Dilshan has been ruled out by a back complaint. Sri Lanka will believe they have enough depth nonetheless, but Dilshan's exit does leave the top order with considerably less firepower.

Form guide

Sri Lanka: WWLLL(Completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand: LLLLW

Players to watch

The injury to Dilshan means Mahela Jayawardene is likely to open, and when he does, he is often Sri Lanka's best limited-overs batsman. In 22 ODI innings at the top of the order, Jayawardene averages 49.67 with a strike rate of 92. He has felt that the team is stronger when he bats at four, but if he succeeds at the top of the order again, he can only ignore statistics for so long.

Kane Williamson made two ODI fifties on the recent West Indies tour, but he cannot yet nail down a specific role in the limited-overs teams, and is often pushed down the order when New Zealand are in search of quick runs. He is yet to make an impact on this tour, and will be anxious to get a good innings under his belt soon, lest his ODI place comes under threat from the likes of BJ Watling when Martin Guptill returns to the team.

Teams news

Sri Lanka's team management have expressed a desire to give the fringe players in the squad a game, but the selectors will only risk their inexperience if the series has already been secured. Dinesh Chandimal will likely take Jayawardene's spot in the middle order, but the other ten players should remain unchanged.

Sri Lanka: 1. Upul Tharanga, 2. Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 3. Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4. Dinesh Chandimal, 5. Angelo Mathews, 6. Lahiru Thirimanne, 7. Jeevan Mendis, 8. Thisara Perera, 9. Nuwan Kulasekara, 10. Rangana Herath, 11. Lasith Malinga.

No word yet from the New Zealand camp if Andrew Ellis has recovered from his stomach bug, but if he has, he will take his spot in the starting XI back from Jacob Oram. Watling will likely retain the gloves, as New Zealand won't want to risk Brendon McCullum's back with the Test series looming.

New Zealand: 1. BJ Watling (wk), 2. Rob Nicol, 3. Brendon McCullum, 4. Ross Taylor (capt), 5. Kane Williamson, 6. James Franklin, 7. Andrew Ellis, 8. Nathan McCullum, 9. Kyle Mills, 10. Tim Southee, 11. Trent Boult

Pitch and conditions

Hambantota was the most seamer-friendly venue of the three during the World Twenty20, and given the amount of rain that has been around, the bowlers are likely to have the better of the surface again. As has been the case for the last two games, rain is forecast for later in the evening, and the toss will again be of some importance.


"BJ has showed a little bit of a new side to him with his power in the last game. We'll be looking forward to him contributing again, and hopefully a few others can back him up."
Ross Taylor on BJ Watling's run of form

"Let's finish this series and I'll see if I can suggest something in writing about the new rules to the ICC. It's not fair for me just to criticise, I have to come up with a proposal as well. We'll sit with Sanga, who is in the MCC Cricket Committee and has already made some comments, and see if we can back up what he has said as well."
Mahela Jayawardene, who has been a critic of the new rule allowing only four fielders outside the circle, on how he hopes to lobby the ICC

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri Lanka

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Lindsay on November 10, 2012, 6:54 GMT

    And I completely agree with @pt_pt, lets give Milne a chance. He's young, he will be champing at the bit to get out there, and he truly has genuine pace. He needs the experience so I agree, get him in there and take out Mills, spice up our bowling a bit.

  • Lindsay on November 10, 2012, 6:07 GMT

    Just my two cents about NZs selection: If they are going to play Williamson in the ODI squad, they MUST have him at number three. He is a grafter and requires time to build an innings, so he needs the extra time; Brendom McCullum is an attacker and would suit the No. 5 position, especialy considering they already have attackers like Watling/Guptill/Taylor up top; and No. 3 is Williamsons test position, if that has any weight to it.

    Also, I think we should make do with Ellis, if only so he keeps Oram out of the damn side. But as soon as Ryder is ready to come back, he needs to replace Ellis; he can play the batting all-rounder role much better than anyone else.

  • Dummy4 on November 10, 2012, 5:42 GMT

    most of our best talent doesnt get selected for the U19 team. Thats down to the best selection committee in the world which is Sri Lanka led by a very knowledgeable leader in Demel :):):):):):) Anyway Sri Lanka has always produced a young cricketer who has potential to be world class every one or two years and thats all we need.

  • Lakpriya on November 10, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    With these new rules of having only 4 fielders outside the circle, chasing down targets would be easier. if teams think that the conditions won't change considerably in the 2nd half of the game they would opt to field when they win the toss.

  • Dummy4 on November 10, 2012, 4:57 GMT

    This little Nation have cricketing talent mare than one would imagine so no worries after theses trio there will be far better players than them Mathews,Chandimal.Thirimanna.thisara,akila,shaminda,pradeep, you name it they all have the talent its just a matter of time wait n see :D Sri lanka the best

  • udendra on November 10, 2012, 3:50 GMT

    @Smith Robertson: you'll have to eat your words in a few months ;) and btw, get ready for your team's big thumping at the hands of india in the upcoming series!! Mahela & Sanga: I back you guys to lobby for the change of these absurd rules.

  • associate cricket fan on November 10, 2012, 3:29 GMT

    @Smith Robertson. I agree with you. Our U19 team was pathetic. but we dont rely on picking players from U19 level guys like vass, murali, sanga, mahela, malinga, mendis dint reperesent SL in U19 level. We always produced cricketers from outside U19 level. Malinga dint play cricket until got to his 20th age. so i dont think that will be a problem for Sri lanka.

  • dave on November 10, 2012, 3:13 GMT

    Williamson is NZ's best prospect and its nonsense to have playing so late in the innings as he is a builder of an innings, like most top batsmen, and his strike is still comparable to Taylor and co. Seems strange how they still persist with Oram as a pinch hitter as its a decade since he was anything like that.

  • Dilum on November 10, 2012, 2:56 GMT

    "SL don't have a clear future" this seems familiar to me. they said that when Aravinda and Arjuna retired, they said that when Sana retired, thaey said that when Murali Vaas retired. but we always had someone and we have proved that since last ten years. wait and see guys i say future is much brighter than today. we have lots of young talent (Mathews, Thisara, Lahiru, Munaweera, Akila etc..) but the problem is we don't have a good selecting committee, and I can't see a good selecting committee coming in future as well. that is problem

  • Rajesh on November 10, 2012, 2:31 GMT

    The cupboard is bare for the srilankans..

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