Although New Zealand has taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the T20I series between Sri Lanka and the Kiwis, both games of the series have lived up to the expectations and hype that surrounds a T20I clash. Sri Lanka has not played badly but New Zealand has men for pressure situations and is a deserving winner. The last game of the series will be played at Pallekele on 6th September 2019. Even though it is a dead rubber, in reality, the shortest format of the game rarely fails to entertain the public. The problem for the Sri Lankan cricket team is that it is inconsistent and the spirited Kiwis are taking full advantage. The last time Sri Lanka managed to beat New Zealand in a T20I match was way back in 2014 in an ICC Men’s T20I World Cup that was played in Bangladesh. Since then New Zealand has won all the 4 matches played between the two teams including the first 2 matches of the current series being played in Sri Lanka.
New Zealand team preparations
New Zealand cricket team won the first game of the series by 5 wickets and the second by 4 wickets and has clinched the series already. With just another game left in the series, they will be looking to make a clean sweep. Although the kiwi top order has struggled the team had done well thanks mainly to the middle order. Colin Grandhomme has scored 44 and 59 in the two matches and he is the key player for the New Zealand fortunes. Tom Bruce scored 53 in a tense chase and it holds the batsman in good stead for the last match. It might not be a surprise to many if Martin Guptill and Colin Munro fail to keep their opening spots in the last match. The skipper Tim Southee has led the bowling charge by taking 2 wickets each in the first two matches and he was economical as well. Seth Rance showed a great deal of promise in the 2nd match with a 3 wicket haul. Southee might be expecting a better show from the spinners Sodhi and Santner in the final match as the Sri Lankan pitches suit their style of bowling.
Sri Lanka team preparations
Sri Lanka will be looking desperately to finish the series with a win and salvage some pride. They are playing on their home ground and will be keen to avoid whitewash at home. The inconsistent batting lineup has affected Sri Lankans pretty badly in the series. Kusal Mendis started the series well with a sparkling 79 in the opener but others such as Fernando, Dickwella, Perera, and Shanaka all got good starts but failed to convert them into good scores. This lineup needs to be more consistent to dislodge the Kiwis in the last match. The bowling department has been good. It is led by the veteran Lasith Malinga who still has a lot of sting left in his bowling. But it was the spinner Dananjaya who bowled well in the second match with a three-wicket haul. He had all the New Zealand batsmen struggling. Sandakan and Udana were good as well but all the bowlers need to work together as a unit to avoid the impending whitewash.
The third match of the series will also be played at Pallekele and both teams would have acclimatized to the conditions by now. The pitches provided were even throughout the games and the team batting first must get a score in excess of 170 runs for it to be able to have any chance of winning. Sri Lankans betted initially in both matches and lost both of them. They will be opting to chase in the final game before curtailing the New Zealand total to a modest one. But New Zealand is a stronger team and has all bases covered. Therefore they can get out of tough situations readily and they are in form. So, the chances are that it will be a 3-0 drubbing for the Sri Lankans.
Sri Lanka, New Zealand.
The Venue, Match Timing, and TV & Live Streaming
Venue: Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Pallekele.
Timing: Friday, September 06, 2019, 7 PM IST, 1.30 PM GMT.
TV: Sky Sports.
Live Streaming: Hotstar.