Preview: New Zealand up against the odds
by Asher Wilson
DateLine: 12th November 2012
Sri Lanka v New Zealand
5th ODI 2012
With Sri Lanka bagging up the series with 3-0 as they won the 4th ODI of the series courtesy D/L method will be against New Zealand for the fifth and final ODI which has become a matter of pride for the visitors. The Kiwis are desperate to register a win and not fall prey to a whitewash that can damage the team's confidence, something that probably has already been dented.
The three matches which Sri Lanka have won this series which have been coincidentally consecutive wins where the D/L method came into play and some of them have been quite close. Keeping that in mind, it must be said that the Kiwis do have a fair chance of sealing a victory just before they enter the Test series.
Mahela Jayawardene's side has been decent in the batting department and extremely good when it has come down to bowling. Tillakaratne Dilshan has managed to score a total of 139 runs over the span of two innings, however, the right handed batsman is not a part of the squad for the final ODI. That will be a big hole that the hosts will have to fill and they will look to do that through Upul Tharanaga and Jayawardene.
Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, Tharanga has been far from impressive with the bat until now. The left handed batsman has scored only 43 runs over three innings with an average of 14.33. The bowling though has been spot on, with Ajantha Mendis leading the wickets column with a tally of five in three matches. Mendis will not be a part of the squad for the final ODI, however, the hosts will look to replace him with Akila Dhananjaya who has had quite a bit of success in the recent past. Another bowler that Jayawardene will want to have a look at before the Test series is Tharindu Kaushal, and it will be interesting to see if the spinner gets a game. All in all, there should be a few changes to the side when they face the Kiwis at Hambantota.
Ross Taylor is hoping that his side doesn't crumble to a 4-0 defeat, however, in order to avoid such a tragic result, his side needs to finish a game rather than let it slip at the end. As far as the batting goes, BJ Watling has been New Zealand's best bet, scoring 166 runs over three innings with a highest of an unbeaten 96. Taylor has scored 85 runs, however, that includes an innings wherein he scored 72 which obviously raises questions about his consistency.
Brendon McCullum and Rob Nicol have faltered in the top order and have inevitably put the middle order under pressure. BB McCullum has scored just 43 runs over two innings while Nicol has scored 64 over three innings. The bowling hasn't been too bad, however, the visitors have failed to pick up wickets regularly. Kyle Mills, Nathan McCullum, Tim Southee and Trent Boult have been the highest wicket takers, and sadly all of them have just two scalps to their name. The economy rates have been good, with every bowler going below 7 an over, but the lack of wickets is what has hurt New Zealand the most.
If the weather does allow for a full game, then New Zealand should have an upper hand owing to the fact that Sri Lanka will try and change things around and will not have their minds solely on the result.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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