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Analysis

New Zealand vs Sri Lanka: Visitors' opening woes, Shipley's likely T20I debut and IPL auditions

Here are the talking points ahead of the three-match T20I series between the two teams

Wanindu Hasaranga is yet to get his first international wicket in New Zealand  •  ICC/Getty Images

Wanindu Hasaranga is yet to get his first international wicket in New Zealand  •  ICC/Getty Images

The cricket world's attention may mostly be trained on the opening weekend of the IPL, but there's plenty for New Zealand and Sri Lanka to play for, in this three-match T20I series starting Sunday. Here are some of the narratives to watch out for.
Can Hasaranga be effective in New Zealand?
Just as Sri Lanka are looking for their first victory of the tour, Wanindu Hasaranga is looking for his first international wicket in New Zealand. He was not especially threatening in the ODIs, but he tends to be much more effective in the shortest format, where he is ranked second among bowlers, internationally. He has a tough challenge first up, as Sunday's match is at Eden Park, one of the smallest grounds in the world, where even mis-hits off legspinners can sail into the stands.
Will Shipley make a big entry into T20 internationals?
Henry Shipley has had a spectacular start to his limited-overs career at home, having taken five wickets in the first ODI, then three in the third. A tall quick, who braces his front leg in his bowling stride, and as such is able to deliver the ball from a substantial height, Shipley caused problems with the bounce he generated, in both Auckland and Wellington ODIs. He's likely to make his T20I debut at some point in the series.
Sri Lanka's top order woes
They collapsed twice in the ODIs, crashing to 76 all out in Auckland, before being 100 for 6 in Hamilton. Their problems tend to start in the powerplay, where they struggle with the moving ball. But the middle order has been little better, failing to contend with shorter lengths, and the bounce New Zealand's quicks get from their surfaces. Sri Lanka's batting does tend to be better in T20Is than in ODIs, however, with the likes of Dasun Shanaka, and Kusal Mendis having been especially good in the format. They will feel the pressure to redeem themselves after a horror ODI series.
Henry's rhythm
For a bowler who has been around the New Zealand team for much of the last decade, Matt Henry has not had the chance to play consistently. At 31, he doesn't quite have 100 international appearances to his name. He has come into his own recently, however, and appears to be in excellent rhythm across formats. He was a force during the Test series against Sri Lanka, where he was the joint-highest wicket-taker, and bowled with superb discipline in the ODIs. If he sets the tone with the new ball again, Sri Lanka are in for another tough series.
IPL auditions
While the Sri Lanka board generally insists that their players put international matches ahead of their IPL commitments, New Zealand allowed their IPL cohort to join their franchises in India ahead of this series. Those that remain have not secured contracts, but still, have an outside chance to be picked up as replacements during the tournament. Good performances in this series for the likes of James Neesham, Henry, and Shanaka, could propel them into IPL reckoning, with a long IPL season likely to feature some injuries along the way.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf