New Zealand vs Sri Lanka, 5th ODI at Mount Maunganui
New Zealand vs Sri Lanka, 5th ODI at Mount Maunganui

New Zealand will aim to take down Sri Lanka in the fifth and final One-Day International (ODI) of the series at Mount Maunganui. Sri Lanka were battered in the first two games of the series but came back in stunning style for the third game at Nelson’s Saxton Oval. The Saxton Oval generated some purchase for the spinners which benefitted the Lankans more than it did the Kiwis. Unfortunately for them, the next match at the same venue was washed out and thus lost them an opportunity of a come-from-behind series win. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: New Zealand vs Sri Lanka, 5th ODI at Mount Maunganui

Nevertheless, the match will still be a cracker given that it is poised to determine whether Sri Lanka can draw the series or if New Zealand can take it with a commanding 3-1 margin. Sri Lanka should be aware that the surface at Mount Maunganui will return favour to seamers and will thus blunt the spin edge they held at Nelson.

New Zealand are in a position to brush away their eight-wicket defeat at Nelson as a one off in light of their twice as commanding wins in the prior two ODIs in the series and that should not affect their psyche too badly. They will look to get back to winning ways. ALSO READ: Brendon McCullum ruled out of New Zealand vs Sri Lanka, 5th ODI

However, not all is good for New Zealand. Brendon McCullum, rated one of the best skippers in recent years, has been all but ruled out of the final ODI as well after a back injury he picked up on account of crashing into advertising boards in attempt to save a boundary in the triumphant second ODI. Tim Southee, picked a niggle in course of the third game and has been removed from the squad for the final game. Trent Boult, who has been more prolific in recent times, will fill in his shoes after a refreshing break.

New Zealand have received rich contributions from Martin Guptill with the bat this series and will be hopeful of that trend to continue. However, their middle order has either been untested or has been fragile. They will need to step up under the guidance of Kane Williamson, the stand-in skipper and soon to be permanent skipper. ALSO READ: New Zealand maintain 2-1 series lead vs Sri Lanka after rain spoils 4th ODI at Nelson

New Zealand’s bowlers were taken apart in the third match but they have been phenomenal otherwise. Matt Henry has gone big in the wickets column and will be a crucial force. Mitchell McClenaghan has also been in top form with the ball.

Sri Lanka displayed a fine, collective bowling effort in the third match and gave glimpses of the same in the limited play of nine overs in the fourth washed out game. They will have to carry on the trend if they are to overpower the Kiwis.

The batting has flourished only once in three attempts. Tillakaratne Dilshan came into his own in that game and took Sri Lanka to the doorstep of a comfortable win, falling short of his century by just nine runs in that innings in the third game. Danushka Gunathilaka and Lahiru Thirimanne also played to their potential in that match scoring 65 and 87 respectively. ALSO READ: New Zealand, Sri Lanka ponder over spin options for turning Nelson track ahead of 4th ODI

There’s a lot to play for and prove in the fifth and final ODI for both teams. This series has seen some fantastic individual performances so far but not one game has concluded in thrilling fashion. Given the sense of occasion and the laws of probability, there is a good chance the deciding game will see a tense and exciting close.

Squads:

Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan, Danushka Gunathilaka, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Angelo Mathews (c), Milinda Siriwardana, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Dushmantha Chameera, Jeffrey Vandersay, Nuwan Pradeep, Thisara Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Ajantha Mendis, Kithuruwan Vithanage, Sachithra Senanayake

New Zealand : Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Luke Ronchi (wk), Adam Milne, Matt Henry, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult, Mitchell McClenaghan, George Worker, Doug Bracewell

Time: 11:00 local | 22:00 GMT | 03:30 IST

(Rishad D’Souza, a reporter with CricketCountry, gave up hopes of playing Test cricket after a poor gully-cricket career. He now reports on the sport. You can follow @RDcric on Twitter)