New Zealand were however handed a major boost when Corey Anderson (middle) was declared fit for the series © Getty Images
New Zealand were however handed a major boost when Corey Anderson (middle) was declared fit for the series © Getty Images

After a comprehensive win in the One-Day International (ODI) series, New Zealand take on Sri Lanka in the first T20 International (T20I) at Mount Maunganui. The tow-match series is an important one, especially for New Zealand as they will not play any more T20Is before the ICC World T20 2016. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are scheduled to play three T20Is against India in February. New Zealand suffered a major blow when they found out that Tim Southee could not recover in time for the T20I series and as a result Matt Henry, who replaced him in ODI series, will replace Southee in the T20I series as well. Henry finished the ODI series as the leading wicket-taker with 13 wickets to his name. FULL SCORECARD: New Zealand vs Sri Lanka 2015-16, 1st T20I at Mount Maunganui

New Zealand were however handed a major boost when Corey Anderson was declared fit for the series. Anderson has not played an international match since the Lord’s Test against New Zealand. Anderson, who recently recovered from a stress injury on the back, will play the series purely as a batsman. St

New Zealand’s batting order looks good even without Brendon McCullum, who has handed over the captain’s armband to Kane Williamson. With McCullum retiring in February, it will be a good opportunity to test himself as a skipper ahead of the World Cup. Martin Guptill, who was in scintillating form in the ODI series will perhaps open with Colin Munro with Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Anderson to follow. Grant Elliott and Mitchell Santner batting low down shows the amount of depth in the side. Adam Milne, Trent Boult and Mitchell McClenaghan will lead the fast bowling department with Santner and Ish Sodhi being the spinners. Tim Southee ruled out of New Zealand T20I series against Sri Lanka due to foot injury

Sri Lanka too will have a new captain in the T20I series, with Dinesh Chandimal taking over the reins from Angelo Mathews. Sri Lanka managed to fight hard during the ODI series and the Test series, but always finished second best in both the series.

Sri Lanka have an excellent fast fast bowling unit with Nuwan Kulasekara, Dushmantha Chameera, Suranga Lakmal and Isuru Udana. Angelo Mathews too can chip in with a couple of overs and is more than capable of breaking partnerships. Milinda Siriwardana will be a crucial figure in the middle-order and will be entrusted to restrict the Kiwi batsmen too. With the experienced Tilakaratne Dilshan at the top, Sri Lanka will bank on him to give the team an explosive start. The middle-order is touch inexperienced, but the likes of Chandimal and Mathews can make up for it. Corey Anderson excited about prospect of international comeback

This will be the first over T20I at Mount Maunganui and it could be a high-scoring encounter. Both sides will want to get their combinations right ahead of the ICC World Cup T20 and for New Zealand this is their last chance to do so.

Squads:

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Luke Ronchi (wk), Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.

Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (c & wk), Dushmantha Chameera, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Danushka Gunathilaka, Shehan Jayasuriya, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake, Milinda Siriwardana, Isuru Udana, Jeffrey Vandersay, Kithuruwan Vithanage.

TIME: 02.00 GMT| 07.30 IST| 15.00 Local

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)