Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 4th ODI, Hambantota

New Zealand need bowlers to step up

The Preview by Andrew Fernando

November 9, 2012

Comments: 23 | Text size: A | A

Match facts

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

Tillakaratne Dilshan plays an unorthodox shot, Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 3rd ODI, Pallekele, November 6, 2012
Sri Lanka will have to make do without the injured Tillakaratne Dilshan © AFP

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by GasPipe 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.

Posted by GasPipe 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.

Posted by   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.

Posted by Lakpj 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.

Posted by   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

Posted by 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.

Posted by Htc-Android 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.

Posted by shortsillypoint 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.

Posted by DilumSL 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

Posted by Rajesh_india_1990 on (November 10, 2012, 2:31 GMT)

The cupboard is bare for the srilankans..

Posted by Polkadey-mudalali on (November 10, 2012, 2:25 GMT)

@ Smith Robertson- You can dream all you want. People said SL will be nothing when Murali left, and guess what we did make it to the T20 final this time. Rather than waiting for a country to fall down be a gentleman who appreciates the goodness in cricket.

@ ranga_s - Nice write up about how our cricket evolved.

Posted by Yoker111 on (November 10, 2012, 1:56 GMT)


Posted by   on (November 10, 2012, 1:39 GMT)

@ranga_s: well said mate.

@Smith: People were talking about weaker SL teams during such transition periods before as well. But, nothing was materilized for a longer period of time. I think it would be going to be such a situation after the big 3 leaves. We cannot except Chandimal and other young talent to come up and do extra-ordinary when big 3 is doing their part for SL. They will show up their talent with the time. I think Angelo is an upcoming all rounder and would be a leading allrounder in the world cricket pretty soon like Watson. I don't think Sakib is comparable with Watson and even Angelo.

Posted by   on (November 10, 2012, 1:35 GMT)

@Smith Robertson : People said the same when Arjuna & Aravinda Left the scene. When they were ath the twilight of their careers, Sanga & Mahela were in the same place where Chandimal & Mathews are right now. So don't worry, they'll come around in time. You talk about SL's performance in U19. well, we have never been doing all that well in that tournament. its not something to worry. because I wouldn't expect SL ton produce to 11 young players to win the U19 world cup in an year. but we have always produced one or two young player who'll bring their game to the next level & get in to the national team. And that's enough. Because not all the players in the national team will retire at the same time. So you better focus on any other team you are supporting & stop worrying about SL cricket.

Posted by Sanga2014 on (November 10, 2012, 1:27 GMT)

@ samith, Dont worry buddy SL furture is safe.

Posted by Karnain on (November 10, 2012, 1:22 GMT)

Upul Tharanga :( - How many failures do the selectors need to consider dropping him? Has he ever played match winning innings during a chase with a significant contribution? Instead of Mahela, I'd like to see Dinesh Chandimal opening the innings despite Mahela's successful record as an opener. I think then we can see who deserves the place in first 11 - Tharanga or Chandimal since I believe if Chandimal is playing he should be in the top 3 instead of batting in the middle order.

Posted by   on (November 10, 2012, 0:54 GMT)

@ranga_s: Every team has their transition period even Australia did and we're still currently are. Sorry but honestly Sri Lanka are currently going through one now and will go through a big one one day soon. Murai left, Vass left, Malinga doesn't play tests anymore and there was an article about him the other day saying he won't play for another 5 years or so Sri Lanka future is clear under my eyes lets just admit it, the Cricket World is changing.

Posted by   on (November 10, 2012, 0:49 GMT)

@DRamenaden: Maybe but on current evidence there's not much weight to backup your claim because young players like Chandimal etc are just like any other Cricketer in World Cricket at the moment nothing special plus Sri Lanka has a pathetic Under-19 record even minnows Bangladesh beat you in the Under-19 World Cup and got knocked out so the future is clear for Sri Lanka Cricket going to go down but who knows how long? There's no other Sri Lankan player especially the young ones anywhere near the Sri Lankan trio in terms of quality. Matthews and Perera are good young players but will never match to top all-rounder like Shane Watson or Shakib Al Hasan. Matthews record as an all-rounder is nowhere near to those 2.

Posted by pt_pt on (November 9, 2012, 23:57 GMT)

Well hope New Zealand give Milne a go today, the bowlers so far in this series have been disappointing. Time for a change, Milne and Ellis in , Oram and Mills out.

Posted by DwightR on (November 9, 2012, 23:51 GMT)

@smith- I agree with ranga_s- SL will never be a "weak team" again, once the current big 3 of SL batting (dilshan, sanga, mahela) leave- a new one will form, my feeling is Chadimal & Mathews will be the new Sanga & Mahela as elite world class batsmen and Mathews & Perrera will develop into the best all rounder combo in world cricket. also would like to comment that this has been a terrible series to watch so far cause of the rain and i hope the boards really schedules the series better moving forward to avoid rainy seasons in Lanka.

Posted by ranga_s on (November 9, 2012, 21:55 GMT)

@The_Ashes: I think most of us and even Kiwis themselves would expect Sri Lanka to win but me being a Sri Lankan fan myself I will not say NZ are an awful team..They are a real gentlemen team and also has heart to play hard cricket and concentrate more on playing the game rather than whining about Subcontinent conditions and pitches..So I think they deserve credit on that aspect....

@Smith: Mate, Cricket is like Universe..When one goes another one steps up...SL had Arjuna, Aravinda and they were replaced by Marvan and Sanath and then they were replaced by Mahela and Sanga and there are excellent young kids under the radar and they will step up and take the places of those great players...In in 15 years from now then people might say then greats would leave and then SL will be weak but that won't be.....

Posted by   on (November 9, 2012, 17:34 GMT)

Sri Lanka should win as many series whatever form as possible because once the amazing exciting trio of Mahela, Dishan and Kumar leave the game then its so obvious Sri Lanka will become a lot weaker. Can't see New Zealand coming close to the Sri Lankans.

Posted by The_Ashes on (November 9, 2012, 16:37 GMT)

New Zealand are an awful team when they play in the Subcontinent. I expect Sri Lanka to win this series and tests with ease.

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