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2nd ODI (D/N), Christchurch, March 28, 2023, Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand

Match abandoned without a ball bowled


Rain in the air as New Zealand eye Super League bragging rights

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, look set to miss direct qualification for the ODI World Cup and be forced to take the qualifiers route

New Zealand have won all but one of their Super League series  •  AFP/Getty Images

New Zealand have won all but one of their Super League series  •  AFP/Getty Images

Big picture - Sri Lanka are headed for the WC qualifiers

Realistically, Sri Lanka's chances of automatic qualification for this year's ODI World Cup are remote. If South Africa win their two ODIs against Netherlands, they will have 98 Super League points, which will be a tally out of Sri Lanka's reach. The most likely course of events is that Sri Lanka will have to play the qualifiers in Zimbabwe in June and July this year.
For much of this Super League cycle, they have played like a side that does not deserve automatic qualification. The only major series in which they surpassed expectation was a 3-2 win at home against Australia last year, but that didn't count towards the Super League.
As was the case on Saturday, the batting order is one of Sri Lanka's major problems. New Zealand bowled them out for 76 at Eden Park, and that was the second successive game in which the team total did not reach 80; they had been bowled out for 73 in January by India, who had amassed 390 for 5 in the same match.
Beyond Angelo Mathews, who had not played ODIs for two years, there are no batters in the top seven with a consistent track record in the format. As the bowling is also finding its way, this presents a serious problem. There was some criticism of team selection for the first game; the decision to leave out Dhananjaya de Silva in particular. But after 65 ODIs, de Silva averages just 26.28 and has a strike rate of only 78 in this format. Thus, there is little evidence of his being a game-changing batter.
New Zealand, meanwhile, can ensure they finish at the top of the Super League table with one more victory. This is mainly for bragging rights, and a validation of their excellent ODI form over the past three years, though they did lose their last series 3-0 in India - that wasn't part of the Super League either.
Mainly, though, the second ODI against Sri Lanka in Christchurch will be another audition for those pressing for World Cup spots. Henry Shipley's five-wicket haul to win the first game will have caught the selectors' eyes, while Finn Allen's 51 and Rachin Ravindra's 49 from lower down the order will also have impressed.
New Zealand are getting to the fine-tuning stage of their World Cup preparation; Sri Lanka have huge holes in their game to address.

Form guide

(Last five completed matches; most recent first)
New Zealand WLLLW
Sri Lanka LLLLW

In the spotlight

An allrounder who can bat with the tail, and bowl decent left-arm spin, Rachin Ravindra is exactly the kind of cricketer New Zealand might benefit from having in their squad for the long World Cup campaign in India. In internationals so far, he had been decent with the ball in T20Is, but modest with the bat in 12 innings. His debut ODI innings on Saturday, though, suggested he was capable of playing mature innings, as he had to bat with the tail for a significant portion of that knock.
Wanindu Hasaranga is arguably the best T20 bowler around right now, but he has not been anywhere near as good in ODIs, particularly recently. In fact, he has been wicketless in his last four ODIs even if, in one of those, he conceded only 28 runs from his ten overs. There is also a school of thought that suggests he has serious potential as a batter in this format. But so far, he has lacked consistency in both disciplines. With so little time to groom a new frontline spinner before the World Cup, Sri Lanka need Hasaranga to get his ODI game into gear.

Pitch and conditions

Hagley Oval is generally not a massively high-scoring venue with its big boundaries, and a pitch that tends to assist seamers. There is rain forecast for the morning and early afternoon, which may delay the start of play, and perhaps even force a shortened match.

Team news

New Zealand will have to make two changes to the side that thumped Sri Lanka by 198 runs in the first ODI, as Allen and Glenn Phillips have left the country to play in the IPL. While Henry Nicholls is likely to open in Allen's place, Mark Chapman might come in for Phillips.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Henry Nicholls, 2 Chad Bowes, 3 Will Young, 4 Daryl Mitchell, 5 Tom Latham (capt, wk), 6 Mark Chapman, 7 Rachin Ravindra, 8 Henry Shipley, 9 Matt Henry, 10 Ish Sodhi, 11 Blair Tickner
There has been some controversy over Dhananjaya de Silva's place. On Friday, de Silva stated unequivocally that he had not refused to bat at No. 7, refuting the rumour circulating on social media. He may still struggle to make this XI, though, unless Sri Lanka extend their batting order, and get rid of a frontline bowler.
Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Nuwanidu Fernando, 3 Kusal Mendis (wk), 4 Angelo Mathews, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 7 Dhananjaya de Silva, 8 Chamika Karunaratne, 9 Wanindu Hasaranga, 10 Kasun Rajitha, 11 Lahiru Kumara

Stats and trivia

  • Sri Lanka have lost all four ODIs they have played at Hagley Oval, all by big margins, all to New Zealand, and all of them in 2015.
  • Outside Asia, Hasaranga averages 131 with the ball across six bowling innings.
  • New Zealand have won all their Super League series aside from the one against Australia last September, where they were defeated 3-0.
  • Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf

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