About the Match
After clinching an emphatic 2-0 victory in the test series against Sri Lanka, hosts New Zealand look forward to a successful 5-match ODI series that begins with the 1st ODI scheduled to be held at Christchurch on 26th December. While the visitors tackle injury issues and find replacements, the Kiwis will keep their squad relatively same as the test series and are hopeful to come out all guns blazing here in the Boxing Day match. Both teams have done well recently in this format of the game and the players are motivated to do well; the contest will surely be an entertainer and the team that can keep the pressure on the opponent, will have the edge to come out trumps.
Brendon McCullum has led the side to several highs in recent tournaments and inspires his team to excel in all departments of the game; along with Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Luke Ronchi, the Kiwis have a strong batting line-up that is a tough nut to crack on home soil. Williamson is in good form and his brilliant 108 runs set up the victory for them in the 2nd test match that concluded recently; Santner, Bracewell and Ish Sodhi bring all-rounder skills to the table.
On the bowling front, Tim Southee continues to lead the pace attack and his 7-wicket haul in the second test was another proof of how valuable he is to the team. Mitchell McClenaghan, Matt Henry, Santner and Adam Milne bring depth to the attack and can make life miserable for the Lankans in the limited overs format of the game.
Overall, they have a well-balanced team consisting of established batsmen and sharp bowlers, who will leave no stone unturned to emerge victorious in the opening match of the series.
Angelo Mathews must be a disappointed man with the test series loss but he will definitely gather his resources to make an impact in the upcoming ODI series; along with batsmen like Karunaratne, Siriwardana, Dilshan, Chandimal and Thirimanne, the Lankans look strong to take on the Kiwi bowlers. In the recent test match, Siriwardana, Mathews and Chandimal made a good impression with the bat and if the middle order can build strong partnerships, then surely they can put up a fighting contest against the Kiwis.
In the bowling department, they have Nuwan Kulasekara who will replace Dhammika Prasad in the squad, Vithanage replacing Kusal Perera and all-rounder Thisara Perera on standby in case Lasith Malinga is not cleared fit for the match. Chameera has been in excellent form in the test matches and will continue to provide his skills here; SurangaLakmal, AjanthaMendis and SachithraSenanayake provide variety to the attack and can break the Kiwi partnerships when required.
The Lankans have learnt some bitter lessons with the test series defeat but they are a determined lot going ahead to the limited overs format; with experience and talent on their side, Sri Lanka can definitely pack a punch in the upcoming match on Saturday.
While Sri Lanka is known for its hard-hitting tactics and result-oriented bowling attack, the hosts with their in-form squad have a better chance to outwit the visitors and win the first one-day match