Upbeat New Zealand take on Sri Lanka with eye on World Cup

High on confidence after a big win in the second Test, hosts New Zealand will take on Sri Lanka in the one-day international leg of the tour, with both teams seeing the games as a way to to get their World Cup combinations right.

The first ODI of 2019 will also mark the beginning the of the final round of preparations for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019. The World Cup is scheduled to begin from 30 May this year and hosts New Zealand, the finalists of the 2015 edition, will look to work out their final combination during a string of home ODIs.

The first of those is against Sri Lanka, whom they beat quite comfortably in the second Test to clinch the two-Test series 1-0, and will look to carry that momentum into the limited-overs set-up.

White-ball specialists Colin Munro, Martin Guptill and Jimmy Neesham are back in the mix and so are Lockie Ferguson and Ish Sodhi. Mitchell Santner, the spin-bowling all-rounder, misses out.

Leading the charge with the bat will be captain Kane Williamson and assisting him will be the experienced Ross Taylor, as the two New Zealand big guns look to get runs in the bank before the global tournament begins.

Tim Southee and Trent Boult will lead the new-ball attack, helped in the bowling by Doug Bracewell, Ferguson and Sodhi. Tim Seifert has been named the specialist wicket-keeper.

For Sri Lanka, it’s another phase under the captaincy of Lasith Malinga, who replaced Dinesh Chandimal. And while Angelo Mathews’ injury and subsequent omission from the squad comes as a blow, Sri Lanka have a good mix of youngsters and experienced cricketers to give them a good, balanced squad.

Chandimal, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera and Niroshan Dickwella make a power-packed batting line-up, and Malinga leads the bowling that has Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, Nuwan Pradeep and Kasun Rajitha.

Lakshan Sandakan, the left-arm wrist-spinner, is the lead spin bowler and Seekkunge Prasanna will bowl with him. Dasun Shanaka makes a good fast-bowling all-rounder. Sri Lanka were humbled by England at home during their last ODI series and will look to begin their 2019 on a good note. (Courtesy ICC)

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