Perennial dark horses New Zealand will look to make it a positive start to their World Cup campaign when they play a struggling Sri Lanka side. This match will be played at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.
The Kiwis are the defending runners-up and have a great record in ICC tournaments. Same is the case with Sri Lanka, who have reached five ICC tournament finals between 2007-15. However, so much has changed since then. New Zealand continue to punch above their weight, while Sri Lanka keep sliding down in the ICC World rankings.
New Zealand Preview
The Kiwis started their warm-ups brightly, pushing aside favourites India. They then had a reality check, as West Indies swatted them easily. Both the games, however, saw the Kiwis excel with the bat. Captain Kane Williamson got himself into form, while Ross Taylor remains on top of his game.
As for the bowling, Trent Boult warmed up with four wickets each in the practice games. He should relish the conditions on offer in the initial stages. Tim Southee and Ish Sodhi round off a consistent bowling unit for New Zealand.
Sri Lanka Preview
The turmoil and the churn in Sri Lanka cricket continues to pull them down. New captain Dimuth Karunaratne is their best batsman for the past year. However, he has not played ODI cricket since 2015 and that remains a handicap.
The experienced Angelo Mathews and the exciting Kusal Mendis will be expected to pull their weight. Bowling will depend on how the old warhorse Lasith Malinga shoulders the burden.
Fantasy Players to Watch
Trent Boult has eight wickets in the two practice games. Even on batting paradises, he has made his mark with exquisite swing bowling. A must have for your fantasy side!
Ross Taylor has a batting average of 68.85 since the last World Cup. He averages more than 80 in the last 18 months and is behind only Virat Kohli and Joe Root. Need more reasons to have him in your side?
Lasith Malinga has a lot of experience for Sri Lanka, having played 218 ODIs and picked up 322 wickets. He has picked up form during the IPL and will look to lead the Islanders.
New Zealand: 1 Martin Guptill 2 Henry Nicholls 3 Kane Williamson (C) 4 Ross Taylor 5 Tom Blundell (WK) 6 James Neesham 7 Mitchell Santner 8 Trent Boult 9 Lockie Ferguson 10 Tim Southee 11 Ish Sodhi
Sri Lanka: 1 Kusal Perera (WK) 2 Dimuth Karunaratne (C) 3 Lahiru Thirimanne 4 Kusal Mendis 5 Angelo Mathews 6 Dhananjaya de Silva 7 Jeevan Mendis 8 Thisara Perera 9 Lasith Malinga 10 Isuru Udana 11 Nuwan Pradeep
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