ODI series preview: Sri Lanka v NZ

New Zealand

An ODI series shortly after the World Twenty20, less than the week since the Champions League and mere days before the start of two high-profile Test affairs is largely at a hiding to nothing in terms of interest levels.

An ODI series shortly after the World Twenty20, less than the week since the Champions League and mere days before the start of two high-profile Test affairs is largely at a hiding to nothing in terms of interest levels.

The pittance of a crowd present for the rain-affected one-off T20I on Tuesday bore testament to the indifference for this five-match string – and arguably ODI cricket in general. Thankfully, then, the ICC's latest crop of rule changes will demand some attention.

While the use of a different ball at each end, instated last year October, has been a welcome dynamic for most attacks, the game's governing body have been quick to level the playing fields by introducing harsher penalties for over-rate breaches.

The addition of a second bouncer per over returns the pendulum swing, though one can only imagine the bravest (or stupidest) seamers will attempt twin short balls in low, slow sub-continental conditions.

The New Zealanders, meanwhile, fully aware of the gaps in their bowling ranks, have hired Shane Bond and Chaminda Vaas to help iron out the shortfalls. There's no such thing as too much help in this era of professionalism, and if they can't get it right – on a consistent basis – under the tutelage of the former paces aces, one wonders if the Black Caps attack ever will.

For the hosts, it's another chance to strut their latest talent, namely 19-year-old spinners Tharindu Kaushal and Akila Dananjaya in the absence of Ajantha Mendis. Quick to cull Tests in favour of more limited-overs cricket (see Sri Lanka Cricket seek South Africa postponement), SLC are not much different in their handling of players who don't set world cricket ablaze immediately. Kaushal and Dananjaya will be ever mindful of this.

<b>Key Men</b><br>Mendis' injury and the need to nurture Kaushal and Dananjaya will give <b>Rangana Herath</b> additional responsibility, which the veteran can't afford to leave unheeded.

Pushed to the top of the knock in Martin Guptill's absence and perhaps given the wicketkeeping duties ahead of Brendon McCullum, <b>Tom Latham</b> won't want to waste his opportunity to cement a berth in the starting XI for future series.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2011: World Cup, semi-final: Sri Lanka won by five wickets, Colombo<br>2011: World Cup, Group A, Sri Lanka won by 112 runs, Mumbai<br>2010: Triangular series, game four: No-result, Dambulla<br>2010: Triangular series, game two: Sri Lanka won by three wickets, Dambulla<br>2009: Champions Trophy, Group B: New Zealand won by 38 runs, Johannesburg

<b>Prediction</b><br>Online betting firm <a href='http://www.skybet.com/cricket' target='_blank' class='instorylink'>Sky Bet</a> have Sri Lanka at 1/4 to win the series, while New Zealand have odds of 11/4. Visit Sky Bet for the latest <a href='http://www.skybet.com/cricket' target='_blank' class='instorylink'>cricket betting</a>.

<b>Squads</b><br><i>Sri Lanka:</i> Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Angelo Mathews, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Jeevan Mendis, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Shaminda Eranga, Upul Tharanga, Rangana Herath, Akila Dananjaya, Tharindu Kaushal.

<i>New Zealand:</i> Rob Nicol, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor (captain), Kane Williamson, BJ Watling, James Franklin, Jacob Oram, Tom Latham, Nathan McCullum, Andrew Ellis, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Ronnie Hira, Adam Milne.

<b>Fixtures</b><br>First ODI: 1 November, Pallekele<br>Second ODI: 4 November, Colombo<br>Third ODI: 6 November, Colombo<br>Fourth ODI: 10 November, Hambantota<br>Fifth ODI: 12 November, Hambantota

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