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Sri Lanka must win the match to stay in contention © Getty Images

Dunedin would vociferously demand an encore from New Zealand and Sri Lanka when the teams  meet in the sixth One-Day International (ODI) of the seven-match series at the University Oval. If the cricket fraternity wasn’t satisfied with AB de Villiers’ blitzkrieg against West Indies, Luke Ronchi ploughing into the Sri Lankan bowling attack in the fifth ODI would have come as a source of boundless pleasure. Naturally records fell like nine pins in the process. Grant Elliot contributed to the carnage with a relatively subdued century, sharing the highest six-wicket partnership in the history of ODI cricket with Ronchi.

This wasn’t the first instance of the Lankan bowlers shuddering under the assault by a Kiwi Batsman. Brendon McCullum had dished out similar treatment in the first Test at Christchurch where he smashed a 134-ball 195. Consistent hammering at the hands of Kiwi batsmen has left the Lankan attack exposed and without even a fig leaf to cover their inadequacies. The absence of Lasith Malinga has never been as conspicuous.

It’s hard to see a team beaten black and blue recover from a jolt of this magnitude. Sri Lankan fans would dearly hope and pray that the battering at the hands of the Kiwis doesn’t break their rhythm in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, and then there is the immediate matter of levelling the seven-match ODI series for which winning the sixth ODI at Dunedin is paramount. Its not that the Sri Lankans haven’t had their moments in the series, but their consistent failure to capture those moments has seen them lose a majority of the matches.

Bad habits are difficult to dispel, and Sri Lanka have developed an uncanny knack of letting games slip from the jaws of victory. They must somehow stem the rot or risk losing the series as well as fritting away their confidence in the country set to co-host the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.

Time: 22:00 GMT | 3:30 IST

Squads:

New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (c), Luke Ronchi (wk), Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori, Kane Williamson, Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, Tim Southee, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Mitchell McClenaghan.

Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (c), Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Dinesh Chandimal(wk), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Rangana Herath, Mahela Jayawardene, Lasith Malinga, Ajantha Mendis, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Shaminda Eranga, Dhammika Prasad, Sachithra Senanayake, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dimuth Karunaratne.

(Ankur Dhawan is a reporter with CricketCountry. Heavily influenced by dystopian novels, he naturally has about 59 conspiracy theories for every moment in the game of cricket. On finding a direct link between his head and the tip of his fingers, he also writes about it)