Friday, January 23, 2015
Start time 1100 local (2200 GMT, previous day)
From Nelson at the top of New Zealand's South Island, the teams have travelled to Dunedin on the south east coast, the southernmost venue to have hosted a men's ODI and where Sri Lanka will take on Afghanistan in a World Cup game exactly a month from now. Sri Lanka are playing a double-header in the space of three days at University Oval and need victory in both games to have a chance of winning the seven-match series against New Zealand.
Angelo Mathews' team is trailing 1-2 after losing the fourth ODI by four wickets, a performance that exacerbated a budding trend in this series. For their runs in these limited-overs games, Sri Lanka have been familiarly dependent on the old guard of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. The trio has scored 522 runs in nine innings while the rest of the Sri Lankans, in 19 innings, are well short of Jayawardene's personal tally of 225.
The hosts have a healthier distribution, with the vanguard of Kane Williamson and Brendon McCullum receiving appropriate back up from the rest of the batting order. But while the poles that hold up the frame of New Zealand's Big Top are in place ahead of the World Cup, they are still sorting through which tent pegs will provide the firmest grounding. Can Grant Elliott produce results as a top-five batsman who is expected to bowl too? If not, does Tom Latham fit in to the XI? And fitness permitting, which of their many quicks are first choice to play along side Tim Southee?
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand WLWWW Sri Lanka LWLWW
In the spotlight
It's early in the New Year but Angelo Mathews' 2015 has not begun as productively as 2014 finished. He had a poor Test in Wellington and has 54 runs in three ODIs. This is his first tour of New Zealand and Sri Lanka will hope Mathews finds his touch because they play three World Cup group matches in this country and depend on him for a forceful finish to the innings.
Ross Taylor's home summer has not started well either. In four Test innings and three ODIs against Sri Lanka, he has four single-digit scores and hasn't passed 40. Coming off an injury layoff, Taylor had a productive tour of the UAE, though, so New Zealand will look to him to find form quickly as one of their three pillars in the batting order.
New Zealand coach Mike Hesson ruled out Adam Milne from both the ODIs in Dunedin after the fast bowler picked up a side strain in the previous game in Nelson. Hesson said the injury was not serious and said Milne would return for the final match of the series. Kyle Mills is likely to return after recovering from a groin niggle, while Trent Boult could also make a comeback.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Brendon McCullum (capt), 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Grant Elliot, 6 Corey Anderson, 7 Luke Ronchi (wk), 8 Daniel Vettori, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Mitchell McClenaghan, 11 Kyle Mills/Trent Boult
Lasith Malinga is unlikely to play a part in this ODI series because of fitness issues. He reportedly had some stiffness in his ankle and Sri Lanka are hoping that he will make a comeback in their World Cup warm-up match on February 9.
The forecast for Friday is sunny in Dunedin, with a high of 21 C. A great day to be at the cricket, then.
Stats and trivia
New Zealand have played only two matches at University Oval and won both, against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.
The average per wicket in four List A matches at this venue over the last two seasons is 29.89. The run rate in these games has been 5.44.
"He bowls 150kmh so when he does get a bit of a twinge it's not worth pushing through. He still needs [to work on his] skills so you can't put someone away and hope their skills will be up to speed later." New Zealand coach Mike Hesson on Adam Milne's fitness and whether they will cottonwool him in the lead-up to the World Cup.