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International Cricket resumes in 2019 with New Zealand and Sri Lanka all set to play the first international match of the year. After a hard-fought test series which New Zealand won 1-0, the two teams will now lock horns in the limited-overs leg of the tour with the first match to be played on 3rd January at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui. Historically, the two teams have shared the honors with New Zealand winning 45 matches won out of a total of 95. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have won 41. The Islanders punched above their weight in the recently concluded test series and if that is anything to go by, it's going to be a thrilling One Day International series.
It's been a while since the Kiwis last played an ODI series at home. It was back in February-March where they lost 3-2 to England in a nail-biting series. Post that, their only international campaign was against Pakistan about a couple of months ago which was tied 1-1.
Although there are a couple of changes made to their ODI squad as compared to the longest format of the game, it's very unlikely that we'll see making more than a couple of changes to their lineup apart from the regular expected changes. Martin Guptill will return to the side after an injury and he's already announced himself with superb innings in Burger King Super Smash.
Their opening pair will reset back to the combination of Martin Guptill and Colin Munro will Kane Williamson coming in next. They've dropped Colin de Grandhomme from the limited-overs leg with Jimmy Neesham making his way back into the side. They have the experience of Ross Taylor in the middle-order as well.
Tim Southee and Trent Boult both were brilliant in the test series and they will once again shoulder a load of quick bowling for the Kiwis. Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson are available in the squad and it's highly unlikely for both of them to make it into the playing eleven. Ish Sodhi will replace Ajaz Patel as the lone spinner and he will have an important role to play against the Islanders who are known to play spin well.
Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, KS Williamson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, James Neesham, Tim Seifert, Matt Henry, IS Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson, TA Boult.
The most visible change in the Sri Lankan lineup is the return of Lasith Malinga to the mix and him being the skipper of the side. Although their recent campaign against England was a big disappointment where they faced a 3-1 loss at home, Malinga's performance was commendable.
Sri Lanka are coming off a poor run in limited overs version of the game with back to back losses in Asia Cup, South Africa, and then at home against England. Angelo Matthews was controversially sacked from captaincy and axed from the team.
The Lankans will draw confidence from their red-ball performance in the recently concluded test series. The Kiwis have struggled against quality spinners of-late and the visitors will be looking to exploit with the presence of quality spinners in their lineup. They have an aggressive batting unit albeit a little inexperienced and if they can complement their bowling, they can certainly make New Zealand work hard.
Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Mendis , Kusal Perera, Asela Gunaratne, S Prasanna, Thisara Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Pradeep.
In recent times, the Kiwis' performance has been directly proportional to the length of the game. They've been terrific in the red-ball cricket, but not so in the two limited-overs versions of the game. However, they are playing at home and it's always been difficult to beat them in home conditions. Furthermore, the Lankans are without Angelo Mathews and lack experience in the batting department. Going by the team on paper and recent form, the Kiwis are more likely to emerge on top in the opening match of the three-match ODI series.