T20I series preview: Sri Lanka v New Zealand

New Zealand

From Johannesburg in South Africa in 2007 to Lauderhill in Florida in 2010, Sri Lanka's Twenty20 International record against New Zealand is vast and varied. For both sides, with next year's World Twenty20 in Bangladesh nearing, now is the time to settle the score.

From Johannesburg in South Africa in 2007 to Lauderhill in Florida in 2010, Sri Lanka's Twenty20 International record against New Zealand is vast and varied. For both sides, with next year's World Twenty20 in Bangladesh nearing, now is the time to settle the score.

Rain wreaked havoc during the preceding ODI series in Hambantota and Dambulla, and as the show heads to the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, the promise of dryer weather and a solid, unbroken contest beckons.

Sri Lanka have been in the habit of rotating the batsmen in limited-overs cricket recently, but for this occasion have gone with the tried and tested. For Tillakaratne Dilshan, particularly, it's a last chance to shine as the complete cricketer – before this month's Test retirement avails him to a longer career across the shortest format.

Leg-spinner Seekkuge Prasanna is back, while uncapped all-rounder Ramith Rambukwella, too, is presented with a great opportunity to push for a World Twenty20 berth. The veteran Rangana Herath doesn't seem to be the man for the job.

New Zealand will be without the injured Corey Anderson, but have found real gems in all-rounder Jimmy Neesham and opener Anton Devcich. The pair were outstanding in the one-dayers – and are just the tonic in sub-continental conditions.

Seamer Kyle Mills will continue to captain the side in the absence of the injured Kane Williamson and the rested Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor. The trio's absence leaves a huge void, and a team able to cope without three big guns, will gather major confidence going forward.

<b>Key Men</b><br>The talented <b>Sachithra Senanayake</b> was in solid form in the ODI series and, with Herath out of the picture and so-called mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis neither here nor there at the moment, can become the spin department's spearhead.

Opener <b>Anton Devcich</b> came into the side as a traditional Twenty20 big-hitter, but has tempered his gameplan to suit the conditions, and brings some handy spin to the New Zealand attack too.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2012: One-off T20I: No-result in Pallekele<br>2012: World Twenty20, Group 1: Match Tied in Pallekele<br>2010: Second T20I: Sri Lanka won by seven wickets in Lauderhill<br>2010: First T20I: New Zealand won by 28 runs in Lauderhill<br>2010: World Twenty20, Group B: New Zealand won by two wickets in Guyana

<b>Prediction</b><br>The International Cricket Council's T20I rankings sees the teams all of six positions apart, but the seventh-placed Black Caps are sporting the kind of form that will probably upend the top-ranked Sri Lankans.

<b>Squads</b><br><i>Sri Lanka:</i> Dinesh Chandimal, Kumar Sangakkara, Lasith Malinga, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kusal Perera, Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Sachithra Senanayake, Ajantha Mendis, Seekkuge Prasanna, Ramith Rambukwella, Suranga Lakmal, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara.

<i>New Zealand:</i> Kyle Mills, Neil Broom, Ian Butler, Anton Devcich, Grant Elliott, Andrew Ellis, Tom Latham, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Rob Nicol, Luke Ronchi, Hamish Rutherford.

<b>Fixtures</b><br>First T20I: Pallekele, 19 November<br>Second T20I: Pallekele, 21 November

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