Preview – Well balanced New Zealand start as favorites against out of form Sri Lanka
In the last five ODIs between New Zealand and Sri Lanka, the Kiwis have won 4 games while one game was abandoned. When Sri Lanka toured New Zealand for a 3-match ODI series earlier this year, they were wiped out 3-0. It is a given then that New Zealand begins their match against Sri Lanka at Cardiff as big favorites.
This will be the first match for both the sides in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 and both may be a little cautious in approach, to begin with. However, New Zealand, the runners-up of the 2015 World Cup, has a more balanced side and will be more confident.
New Zealand’s batting order is sorted and has the likes of Martin Guptill, captain Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls and Colin Munro making the crux. Taylor and Nicholls were the highest scorers in the ODI series against Sri Lanka earlier in the year and would be keen to continue their form against the opponents. The Kiwis also have a solid all-rounder in James Neesham who can come right down the order.Embed from Getty Images
New Zealand’s bowling has variety, and they would enjoy bowling on this pitch. Trent Boult and Tim Southee would be taking care of the fast bowling department while Ish Sodhi or Mitchell Santner would be manning the middle-overs with their spin. Sodhi was the highest wicket-taker in the ODIs against Sri Lanka earlier in the year and is likely to have a say in this game too.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are coming into this event and this match with a horrible track record in ODIs recently. They lost to England at home 1-3 and were then decimated 3-0 and 5-0 in New Zealand and South Africa respectively.
It will take something special for new captain Dimuth Karunaratne to help Sri Lanka to get past this robust New Zealand side. Sri Lanka would depend on the experience of Angela Matthews and will bank on the recent form of Thisara Perera (335 runs in last 10 ODIs) and Kusal Mendis (301 runs in final 10 ODIs).Embed from Getty Images
Lasith Malinga, the old warhorse, would be crucial to Lanka’s prospect in the game. If he can bring his best, then they might have a chance. Seamers Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal would enjoy bowling if the conditions are overcast and might even surprise New Zealand.
Pitch condition and New Zealand v Sri Lanka Prediction:
The pitch at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, does assist seamers when the ball is fresh. But as things ease out, batsmen will find it great to bat on. The highest total batting first here is 342/8 by England against Australia last year. And the highest total chased is 304/6 by Pakistan against England in 2016.
So expect the team batting first to score more than 280-plus. The seamers should find the conditions helpful, initially. And that is the only chance Sri Lanka has. But with the well-balanced side New Zealand has and their recent track record against Sri Lanka, they are expected to emerge victoriously.