New Zealand bank on familiarity with Pallekele
New Zealand acting captain Kyle Mills has banked on his side's batting form, and their experience in Pallekele ahead of New Zealand's first T20 against Sri Lanka.
New Zealand have been the most frequent international visitors to the venue, having played four ODIs and six T20s there since the stadium debuted in 2010. They have never beaten Sri Lanka in any format in Pallekele, but Mills suggested the ground held few surprises for his side, particularly after they had played here at a similar time last year.
"We have played a reasonable amount of cricket here. In the last T20 World Cup we had a few games here and quite a few ODI games as well. We know it swings around at night time. When we played Pakistan here Ross Taylor got a big hundred. We batted first got a decent score and it swung around at night. If the environmental conditions are right - if it's quite humid - it will possibly swing around again."
New Zealand's batting has rescued the team in both wins on their subcontinent trip, and Mills affirmed his batsmen's ability to transform a match in a short space of time. Nathan McCullum has been in particularly impressive form in the series, having hit 32 off 9 balls to pull off an unlikely win in Hambantota, while others in the lower middle order have also produced. New Zealand hit 204 for 5 in their last T20, in Bangladesh.
"The late order guys have been in pretty good form the whole way through. The scores we were able to manage in the series here and also in Bangladesh when we scored 200 in a T20 game and 300 in a 50-over game was really good. McCullum's been in good form the whole way through and he had a pretty good Champions league and A series in Sri Lanka. We bat pretty deep so we've got full confidence in our batting order. Hopefully the top order can score a few more runs."
Mills said that New Zealand will also use this series to tune-up ahead of the World T20 in Bangladesh. They have four scheduled T20s before the tournament - including two against West Indies - and he relished the chance to develop depth in similar conditions to those they will encounter in March.
"We have already started preparing for the World T20. You could see that over the last couple of months, with the introduction of some young players. Some of them have really stood up, so with the T20 games remaining between now and the World Cup, you see those guys come to the forefront. Our whole objective is to find a squad to try and win the tournament."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here