Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 1st T20, Pallekele November 18, 2013

Teams look to consolidate towards World T20


Match facts

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Start time 1900 local (1330 GMT)

Big Picture

It should perhaps go without saying at this stage in the tour, but once again, rain shapes to be the defining influence of the match. The past two days in Pallekele have been hot and humid, before rain has arrived after dusk, around the time the match is scheduled to begin. Tuesday's forecast is for more of the same.

But if the weather relents long enough to allow a result, both teams have concrete goals for the series. Sri Lanka's first task will be to protect their No. 1 ranking, having maintained it for over a year now. Their longevity atop the points table is perhaps as much a reflection of the infrequency of Twenty20 cricket as Sri Lanka's affinity for it, but it has been a point of pride for the side in a lean year of cricket. They need one win in the two matches to keep their top ranking, unless both matches are washed out.

New Zealand have four Twenty20s scheduled before the World T20 in Bangladesh, which begins this March and this series will be another exercise in building depth. James Neesham and Neil Broom had had match-winning turns for Otago in the Champions League, and if picked, both men will hope to replicate their results on turning pitches, and secure a place in the side bound for the World T20. In Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor's absence, men like Luke Ronchi and Colin Munro have the opportunity to capture the attention of the selectors.

The hosts, however, will seek to finalise their combination for the World T20. They had rotated the seniors to free up a space for a young player in their last T20 series, but captain Dinesh Chandimal has suggested his team will play its best XI this time.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka: WLLWW
New Zealand: WWLWL

In the spotlight

Doubts about Dinesh Chandimal's aptitude for T20 have been voiced since he was appointed Sri Lanka's captain in the format in February, and though Sri Lanka have only played four T20s since, his ODI form does not suggest fluency in limited-overs cricket. As the team now embarks on the home stretch to the World T20, he must prove to himself, and his team, that he deserves a place in the side he leads.

Nathan McCullum's cricket has gathered steam over the back end of New Zealand's trip to the subcontinent. In Hambantota, he walloped 32 off 9 balls to effect an unlikely win, and in Dambulla, he removed Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara within three balls, and had sparked worry in the opposition, when he blasted another 35 not out with the bat. After that match, Kyle Mills had spoken of the team's confidence in him to finish matches, and Sri Lanka will be aware that even if New Zealand's top order goes cheaply, an in-form match-winner lurks lower down.

Pitch and conditions

The Pallekele pitch has tended to provide assistance to seam bowling under lights, though on occasion it has also been a happy venue for spinners. If rain is in the air, teams may choose to bowl first, reasoning that it is more difficult to defend a total with a wet ball.

Team news

Ramith Rambukwella and Seekkuge Prasanna have been added to Sri Lanka's squad, but it's unlikely they will appear in the XI, unless injury rules a spinner out. Having sat in the dressing room throughout the ODI series, Kusal Perera may be in line for a game at the expense of Lahiru Thirimanne, even if Jayawardene continues to open the innings. But Ajantha Mendis is likely come into the side.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Kusal Perera/ Lahiru Thirimanne, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5. Angelo Mathews, 6. Dinesh Chandimal (capt), 7. Thisara Perera, 8. Nuwan Kulasekara, 9. Sachithra Senanayake, 10. Lasith Malinga, 11. Ajantha Mendis

Neil Broom has a chance of figuring in New Zealand's top order, while Anton Devcich may find his place under threat from Hamish Rutherford after three poor innings in the ODIs. Corey Anderson's absence means Neesham will almost certainly play, while Andrew Ellis' place is less secure.

New Zealand (probable): 1 Anton Devcich/ Hamish Rutherford, 2 Tom Latham, 3 Neil Broom, 4 Grant Elliott, 5 Colin Munro, 6 Luke Ronchi (wk), 7 James Neesham, 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Andrew Ellis, 10 Kyle Mills (capt), 11 Mitchell McClenaghan

Stats and trivia

  • As an opener, Mahela Jayawardene averages 42.57 and has a strike rate of 138.52. Like in ODIs, these figures are substantially better than his returns lower down the order.
  • In five matches in Pallekele, New Zealand have been involved in two ties. Both times, during last year's World T20, they lost in the Super Over.


"We experimented by resting some senior players in the last series, but we have only another six T20 internationals to play prior to the T20 World Cup, so we don't want to experiment too much."
Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal is intent on using all his resources

"When it comes to T20 it's a pretty even bunch. On the day if somebody is going to have a good performance, they will contribute to the team which hopefully will win. You can't have a clear stand out team in the T20 format."
New Zealand acting captain Kyle Mills doesn't read too much into the rankings for this format

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ESPN on November 20, 2013, 14:44 GMT

    Dinesh chandimal should bat No4

  • Panini on November 20, 2013, 1:55 GMT

    @"South-West monsoon days" - I agree absolutely with what you say. However, this is actually the North-East Monsoon, and the period to be avoided is mid-October to mid-January. February is probably the driest month in the country. Then come the wet days associated with the South-West Monsoon which is roughly from the end of March to end of June. The more learned will describe some of this as an "inter-monsoonal" period. However what matters is that there is so much rain that cricket is impossible.

    One even wonders whether this is a strategy that is adopted when we are afraid of things not going well for us. It is self-defeating. Just imagine the effort our own boys go through to get themselves physically fit; and then the anti-climax. So much of the time. For each visiting team, it is only an occasional problem.

  • N on November 19, 2013, 15:22 GMT

    @AsifRana: "Keep calm and see the LIONS". Oh, we've seen the lions only too many times in the last 10 years. Have you checked the Ind-SL record in the last ten years? The lions have been heavily wounded, even in their own den! Besides where to see the lions. They're hiding in their den most of the time because it is raining throughout the series. The only matches are being played between the fans of different teams in this comments section :).

  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2013, 14:19 GMT

    @Haiderpakawsome your comment is very funny! Actually, rain helps NZ to not to bat 50 overs any of the games.

  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2013, 13:51 GMT

    What I always wonder is why the SL Board insists on International cricket right in the midst of the country's monsoon. Numerous number of matches have been washed off or nowadays are being decided on that wonky method of calculation called as the Duckworth-Lewis method. ICC should have second thoughts on arranging any tour in Sri Lanka in the months of October to February which represent the South-West monsoon days.

  • Android on November 19, 2013, 13:47 GMT

    I think paka awsome u dont know whose on top of the rankings

  • ttn on November 19, 2013, 13:39 GMT

    @Haiderpakawsome: Mister plz see the rankings.Plus don't forget had there been no rain NZ would definitely been trashed

  • B on November 19, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    @Blade-ruinner, this may be NZ B team in ODI. But they are still far superior than SL full strength. The results of ODI series itself speaks. If Lanka would have not blessed with Advantage rain then they were sure to loose. I apriciate the fact that you have a accepted NZ is better than SL in T20

  • Android on November 19, 2013, 12:53 GMT


  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2013, 12:31 GMT

    Oldy sri-lanka they should earn new gun in their troop ............ that's y all time sri-Lanka team have lack of competition to hold their places in team........... view of them make a century than play certainly 3-4 years without making any run ..........

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