Rain has badly affected this five-match series between Sri Lanka and New Zealand. As the two sides prepare for the fourth game in Hambantota, Sri Lanka take an unassailable 2-0 lead along with them (Saturday 8.30am GMT).
New Zealand have been more competitive than some were predicting but Ross Taylor’s men will be hoping for a little more luck ahead of this vital fixture.
In a game with only two possible outcomes, the result odds of 11/5 on New Zealand are extremely tempting but the Kiwis may need better help from the weather. If the match lasts the full 100 overs then another Sri Lankan win could be the most likely outcome but rain and a shortened match could help the visitors, providing they bat second and have more assistance from the Duckworth Lewis method.
In the third match on Tuesday, Sri Lanka’s successful run chase was anchored by Tillakaratne Dilshan who was unbeaten at the end with 102. Dilshan forms part of a top order that includes Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene and it seems that one of these batsmen at least will make a big score in any match they play.
That may mean that New Zealand have to rely on containment rather than looking to take wickets straight away and that suits a side who are one of the least penetrative in world cricket. Once again, Ross Taylor’s best option is to field first and attempt to restrict the prolific home side to a modest total.
As far as batting is concerned, there have been positive signs for a New Zealand team that will include Brendon McCullum who returns after injury. In the most recent match however, McCullum made just thirteen and it was left to wicket keeper BJ Watling to steer his side to a defendable total of 188 with a patient 96.
One of the problems for New Zealand has been a lack of support for McCullum and Taylor from the other batsmen and if others can follow Watling’s example, the Kiwis will start to be more competitive in any form of the game.
Opener Rob Nicol has also shown signs of returning to form and this game could be the time for all the tourists’ top order to find some touch. Sri Lanka’s bowling has also struggled in the absence of the injured Ajantha Mendis and even Lasith Malinga is being extremely expensive by his standards.
Like the Kiwis and their batsmen, Sri Lanka’s bowler are going to have to perform much better as a unit and not rely on the efforts of just one player. Rangana Herath was particularly disappointing in the third match and could lose his place in the side.
New Zealand may have suffered a number of One Day defeats in 2012 but you can usually expect Taylor’s men to win one game in a series. It needs either McCullum to make a big hundred or the whole line up to support each other and you can expect either of those scenarios to be played out in this match.
- This preview’s betting tip: New Zealand to win at 11/5 with Bet365.