Cricket at weather's mercy again
Match factsTuesday, November 12, 2013
Start time 1430 local (0900 GMT)
New Zealand may have mixed feelings about the soggy finish to the first match, but for the hosts, the disappointment of not completing that game is double. With an inexperienced opposition at 13 for 1 chasing a tall score, Sri Lanka will feel they were strong favourites to win the match.
Their plans for developing young players have now been complicated. Chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya had suggested to Sunday Times he would like to rest at least one of the senior batsmen in match two if the first game was won, reasoning, "If they are not at full strength I don't see why we should be at our full strength". With no gains made in the series yet, he will now be tempted to shelve those plans.
The hosts will at least be encouraged by the solidity of their batting. Despite a first-ball jolt and the clatter of wickets after the 35th over, Sri Lanka still managed a fine start and a fast finish. This is in part because this ODI team bats as deep as any Sri Lanka side ever has, but it is also thanks to the enduring class of Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan, who appear to be adding new dimensions to their ODI cricket at 36 and 37 respectively. A fluent Sangakkara counterattacked after the early wicket, and an out-of-touch Dilshan dropped anchor, making a valuable contribution nonetheless.
Angelo Mathews' turn as finisher will also reassure the team, after he had become unsteady in that role this year. He is batting ahead of two young batsmen whose cricket is neither well-suited to limited-overs matches nor to the positions they are being forced to bat in, and as such, Mathews will routinely have to pick up the slack until Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne can become more consistent.
New Zealand, meanwhile, will hope to eliminate the waywardness that characterised their attack on Sunday. Mitchell McClenaghan had bowled excellently in his last outing against Sri Lanka, in Cardiff, but struggled for rhythm and direction in Hambantota, even if he produced the occasional fine delivery. Adam Milne was slightly more disciplined, but was also guilty of releasing the pressure Kyle Mills had built at the other end during the opening overs. Corey Anderson was also expensive, despite dismissing Dilshan in the batting Powerplay.
The cricket, again, is at the mercy of the weather, and the forecast for Tuesday is worse than it was for Sunday.
Form guide(last five completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka: WWLWW
New Zealand: LLLLW
In the spotlight
Dimuth Karunaratne waited two years for his third ODI, and when it came, he barely had time to breathe in the atmosphere before he was trudging off for a golden duck. He earned his way back into the side largely on the back of a terrific List A series against New Zealand A six weeks ago, when he averaged 90 against an attack that featured Milne, Grant Elliott and Andrew Ellis - all of whom are in this New Zealand squad. He has hit runs all around the world for the A team, but in internationals, he is yet to convince he can be a successful long-term opener. Though his primary focus should be Tests, runs in this series would be an important boon to his confidence ahead of the year-end tour against Pakistan.
Anton Devcich was the latest victim of a Lasith Malinga yorker on Sunday, but before he succumbed with the bat, he had produced perhaps the bowling performance of the innings. His left-arm spin doesn't generate much turn, nor does he seem enamoured with flight, but nagging accuracy helped build pressure through the middle overs, and for that, he was rewarded with two wickets, including that of Sangakkara. New Zealand may look to his bowling again, particularly if the frontline bowlers are struggling to make headway.
Pitch and conditions
The pitch on Sunday did not have as much bounce as Mills hoped for before the match, though it did provide decent movement off the seam. With the rain likely freshening things up, expect a similar surface, as long as the weather will allow the match to happen at all.
It is difficult to see Sri Lanka change their side, despite three young batsmen's failure in the first match.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Dimuth Karunaratne, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Angelo Mathews (capt), 6 Lahiru Thirimanne, 7 Dinesh Chandimal, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Sachithra Senanayake 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Rangana Herath
James Neesham, who was injured for the first ODI, is expected to be available for selection on Tuesday. McClenaghan may be the man to make way, given his poor outing.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Anton Devcich, 2 Tom Latham, 3 Rob Nicol, 4 Grant Elliott, 5 Colin Munro, 6 Corey Anderson, 7 Luke Ronchi (wk), 8 James Neesham, 9 Nathan McCullum, 10 Kyle Mills (capt) 11 Adam Milne
Stats and trivia
- Three out of the last four ODIs in Hambantota have been rained out
- In 19 innings at No. 5, Mathews averages 50.20 at a strike-rate of 93.65 - by far his best stats for any position
"If you look at our batting lineup right now, apart from TM Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, the other four in the top seven are all young cricketers, so there has to be a balance."
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews feels his team is already doing plenty to prepare for the future
"He is one of their key bowlers. If we can deny him as much as possible and look to take on their other bowlers, it is going to give us a good chance."
Tom Latham on Lasith Malinga
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here