New Zealand will no more start the tournament as a dark horse as they look to begin the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 as title favourites. Under the captaincy of Brendon McCullum, Kiwis have been playing exceptional cricket both at home and away and now seem all set to kick-start their ICC World Cup 2015 campaign against a team they have faced seven times last month – Sri Lanka, on February 14. Also Read: ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Schedule in IST: Time Table, Fixture & Venue Details of all WC 2015 Matches.
A 4-2 score-line in a seven-match series preceding mega-event between New Zealand and Sri Lanka, which the Black Caps won comprehensively indicates that Brendon McCullum’s side hold an edge and momentum going into the World Cup 2015 opener at Hagley Oval, Christchurch.
Runners-up of World Cup 2011, Sri Lanka suffered a morale shaking loss against South Africa and feeble Zimbabwe in Warm up Matches and now will be under a bit of pressure to excel in their first World Cup Match. New Zealand too had nervous moments against Zimbabwe before heavens opened, but their clinical performance against South Africa brought back their inflating dominance over rivals. Also Catch: Video Preview of Sri Lanka vs New Zealand
Lasith Malinga comes back into Sri Lanka team and without any doubt will spearhead their bowling attack. His absence from One-Day Internationals (ODIs) since August 2014 may make him a bit rusty, but his presence indisputably adds weight to Lankan line-up. Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan throw their weight in batting department while Captain Angelo Mathews, as a genuine all-rounder, balances the team.
New Zealand have five quality pacers in their squad (Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Mitchell McClenaghan, Kyle Mills and Adam Milne) and picking three will be a bit of headache for Captain McCullum. While Southee and McClenaghan are almost certain to be part of playing XI, out of Milne, Mills and Boult who completes the pace trio remains to be seen. Off-late New Zealand batting has flourished with the likes of wicket-keeper batsman, Luke Ronchi and Grant Elliot stepping up and performing.
The form may not be with Sri Lanka, but they have been in New Zealand since December and may well put forward their best game when it matters the most. For New Zealand, it is time to carry forward the momentum. Also Read: ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Schedule: Complete Fixtures & Time Table of all Cricket World Cup 2015 Matches.
Head to Head: New Zealand and Sri Lanka have met each other 89 times. Kiwis have won 41 matches while Sri Lanka 40. Both teams were involved in one tie and seven matches have produced no result.
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (c), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Dushmantha Chameera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Sachithra Senanayake.
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (c), Trent Boult, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, Daniel Vettori, Kane Williamson, Corey Anderson, Tim Southee, Luke Ronchi (wk), Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott, Tom Latham, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan.