By BV Swagath
The opening ODI of the 5-match Series between Sri Lanka and New Zealand is to be played this afternoon at Pallekele in Kandy. The day/night affair is likely to see rain interruptions as poor weather continues to dominate the island nation.
As we all know, the two teams played in a T20I day before yesterday which was abandoned due to intermittent showers. Just the 16 overs were bowled in the entire match on Wednesday. The most notable part of the Only T20I was the way the batsmen struggled to come terms on a juicy pitch which was under covers because of plenty of rain prior to the match.
The pitch for the opening ODI is also likely to have plenty of juice underneath it. We could witness a low-scoring match if that is the case with the seamers in a great position to make life extremely difficult for the batsmen. The spinners should also enjoy bowling if the pitch behaves the way it did in the only T20I.
With rain predicted, the opening ODI could be an on and off affair of covers coming on and going off. It could be a curtailed contest leaving the side that bowls first with a great advantage. The pity of the Only T20I on Wednesday was that it was played in a near empty stadium! One wonders whether the Sri Lankan public has been fed up with the overdose of cricket or whether they like to stay indoors with all the rain around.
The Sri Lankan team will see Skipper Mahela Jayawardene and Lasith Malinga back. New Zealand have lost a player in fast bowler Adam Milne who is out with a stomach bug.
The only interest this match could generate for the cricketing world is that the new ICC rules will come into effect. From today’s ODI, bowlers will be allowed to bowl two bouncers in an over. The Powerplay has been cut short by 5 overs with the bowling powerplay vanishing. The first ten overs will see the mandatory powerplay while the batting side has the option of taking the Batting Powerplay before the 40th over. A maximum of three fielders will be allowed outside the 30-yards circle during the batting powerplay.
Sri Lanka Squad: Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara (WK), Mahela Jayawardene (C), Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara, Akila Dananjaya Perera, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Tharindu Kaushal
New Zealand Squad: Rob Nicol, Tom Latham, Brendon McCullum (WK), Ross Taylor (C), James Franklin, BJ Watling, Andrew Ellis, Jacob Oram, Tim Southee, Ronnie Hira, Kyle Mills, Nathan McCullum, Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Adam Milne