New Zealand begin their tour of Sri Lanka with a one off T20 in Pallekele on Tuesday (2.30pm GMT) and the hosts are clear favourites to take the win ahead of this match.
Sri Lanka are the current World T20 runners up and have the added benefit of playing on a home surface but injury and the resting of key players could give the tourists a hint of a chance.
The home side will be without three key members of the squad that got to the T20 final earlier this month. Mahela Jaywardene and Lasith Malinga have been rested after an extended stay with their IPL sides in the Champions League while mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis will miss the limited overs games in this series with a persistent side strain.
Even though the Sri Lankans are a stronger side than they may have been in the past, those absences will be keenly felt and it means that all-rounder Angelo Mathews takes charge of the team in this match.
Mathews is an underrated performer with both bat and ball in the limited overs arena and he will be an important player if Sri Lanka are to win this contest. However, could the added burden of taking the captaincy limit his performance?
Meanwhile, New Zealand should be at full strength with a side that was unlucky to have been eliminated from the World Cup after losing out in two games that went to a super over. One of those matches involved Sri Lanka and that fact alone tells you that the Kiwis are more than capable of upsetting those odds.
The key to any New Zealand success will surely lie with their batsmen and many of the top order could step into any T20 side in World cricket. Brendon McCullum is the highest ranked batter in the shortest form of the game and he continued a good run of form in the world cup with the highest ever score in an international Twenty20 match.
Alongside McCullum, skipper Ross Taylor is another devastating hitter who fetches big money in the IPL auctions. Support will also be provided from the likes of Martin Guptill and James Franklin who can score quickly, and have a game won in the space of just a few overs.
Sadly for Kiwi fans, the bowling is a weak link and while there are bowlers capable of returning tidy spells, there is a lack of penetration throughout the attack. In T20, taking wickets is just as important as keeping the runs down but this New Zealand line up rarely looks capable of anything more than containment.
Sri Lanka will undoubtedly be weakened by those withdrawals and Mendis and Malinga in particular will be sorely missed. The game will therefore be decided by two strong batting sides against weak bowling attacks and despite these odds, New Zealand should benefit from Sri Lankan absentees to mount a match winning total. The tourists’ bowling attack is a main concern but it will only need a big knock from McCullum or Taylor to secure a Kiwi win.