Having won the Test series and swept the one-day internationals 3-0, New Zealand will look to finish a high by winning the one-off Twenty20 International against Sri Lanka as well.
New Zealand notched up three consecutive scores in excess of 300 in the ODI series, burying Sri Lanka under a pile of runs they couldn’t recover from, despite a heroic effort from Thisara Perera.
Most runs by a team in a three-match bilateral ODI series:
— ICC (@ICC) January 9, 2019
Now into the shortest format of the game, the array of power-hitters on either side can make it another high-scoring affair. However, the hosts will have to deal with the injury of Jimmy Neesham, one of the stars of the ODI series, as well as the absence of Kane Williamson, their regular captain, who has been rested.
Yet, they still have the likes of Martin Guptill, Colin Munro and Ross Taylor – all of whom were among the runs in the ODIs – as well as Tim Southee, the stand-in captain, Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi as seasoned T20 players.
The inclusion of Scott Kuggeleijn, the 27-year-old batting all-rounder who is as yet uncapped in the format, means that there could be at least one debutant playing the match. Kuggeleijn has played two ODIs for New Zealand, both against Ireland in 2017.
— ICC (@ICC) January 9, 2019
Wicket-keeper batsman Tim Seifert, Seth Rance, Doug Bracewell, Glenn Phillips, Henry Nicholls and Lockie Ferguson complete the squad.
For Sri Lanka, Lasith Malinga’s leadership hasn’t seen the results but the veteran will look for a turnaround with this match. He has the resources to do so with the likes of Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella, Dhananjaya de Silva and Thisara Perera capable of using the long handle.
Seekkuge Prasanna and Lakshan Sandakan give the visitors spin-bowling options to choose from and Nuwaan Pradeep, Dushmanth Chameera and Lahiru Kumara will assist Malinga in the fast-bowling department.
— ICC (@ICC) January 8, 2019
Both the Pereras as well as Danushka Gunathilaka were among the runs in the ODI series and Sri Lanka will bank on them to go big in the 20-over affair and hope the rest of the line-up bats around them.
Martin Guptill (New Zealand): Guptill scored a magnificent 138 in the first ODI and poses a big threat to any bowling line-up at the top of the order. Together with Colin Munro, another explosive bat, Guptill has often given New Zealand good starts and will look to do the same in Auckland.
Read More : Thisara Perera sizzles in latest ODI rankings
Thisara Perera (Sri Lanka): After a whirlwind knock of 140 in the second ODI that almost won Sri Lanka the match, New Zealand will be more than wary of Perera’s hitting. Capable of hitting sixes at will, Perera can single-handedly change the course of the match as he did once in the ODIs.
The small boundaries at Eden Park can make six-hitting easy but New Zealand don’t have very good recent memories of the venue, having lost the last T20I they played here, against Australia. It is expected to be a warm day in Auckland with temperatures likely to drop to 18°C at night. There’s little chance of rain.
New Zealand: Tim Southee (c), Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Scott Kuggeleijn, Colin Munro, Doug Bracewell, Henry Nicholls, Glenn Phillips, Seth Rance, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Ross Taylor
Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga (c), Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Asela Gunaratne, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Lakshan Sandakan, Seekkuge Prasanna, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara, Sadeera Samarawickrama