1st ODI: Crunch time for New Zealand, Sri Lanka as World Cup year begins
After winning the Tests, Kane Williamson's Blackcaps are aiming to pocket the ODIs. © Getty

It’s crunch time for New Zealand and Sri Lanka as both teams continue their preparation for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England this summer, as the first ODI of the new year gets underway at Bay Oval on Thursday.

New Zealand return to ODIs for the first time since early November, when they drew a three-match series 1-1 in the UAE. Ranked third in ODIs, the hosts welcome back Martin Guptill and his experience of 159 ODIs, as well as the all-round pair of Jimmy Neesham and Doug Bracewell. (ALSO READ: Test series won, New Zealand switch to World Cup mode against Sri Lanka)

Sri Lanka have faded as an ODI force over the past couple of years, as highlighted by 0-5 whitewashes to Pakistan and India and a home loss to Zimbabwe in 2017. In recent months, they were eliminated in the first round of the Asia Cup and lost at home 2-3 to South Africa and 1-3 to top-ranked England.

They have eight ODIs before the start of the World Cup and stand-in skipper Lasith Malinga, 35, has called on his team to get their act together in New Zealand.

Date: January 3

Venue: Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui

Time: 06:30 IST

Weather: Partly cloudy with a high of 26 degrees

Team News

New Zealand 

New Zealand have brought back big-hitting Guptill and are resting regulars Tom Latham and Colin de Grandhomme. With de Grandhomme out and Corey Anderson injured, Neesham and Bracewell have been recalled as allrounder options. Guptill’s return for the first time since New Zealand ended their summer means that George Worker will drop out.

Ish Sodhi is the specialist spinner, while the management will mull whether to bring back Bracewell for his first ODI in over a year or rest one of Tim Southee and Trent Boult.

Probable XI: 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Colin Munro, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Henry Nicholls, 6 Tim Seifert (wk), 7 Jimmy Neesham, 8 Tim Southee, 9 Doug Bracewell, 10 Ish Sodhi, 11 Trent Boult/Lockie Ferguson

Sri Lanka 

Sri Lanka have bolstered their side with return of the unorthodox seamer Malinga along with Kusal Perera, Asela Gunaratne, Seekkuge Prasanna, Thisara Perera and Dasun Shanaka. With Angelo Mathews ruled out with injury, Sri Lanka have a big void in the middle order.

Probable XI: 1 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 2 Sadeera Samarawickarama, 3 Dinesh Chandimal (capt), 4 Kusal Mendis, 5 Dhananjaya de Silva, 6 Asela Gunaratne, 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Seekkuge Prasanna/Lakshan Sandakan, 9 Lasith Malinga (capt), 10 Nuwan Pradeep, 11 Karun Rajitha/Lahiru Kumara

Statistics

– Malinga needs nine wickets to surpass Sanath Jayasuriya (320) as Sri Lanka’s third most successful bowler in ODIs.

– Guptill is 24 runs short of becoming the fifth New Zealand batsman to 6000 in ODIs.

– Of all touring teams to visit New Zealand for ODIs, Sri Lanka have the joint fourth-best record of 16 wins.

Quotes

“There’s not time to rebuild – the World Cup is this year. Now we have to find who is the best in Sri Lankan cricket.” – Malinga

“I haven’t played for New Zealand since last summer which is quite a long time ago so to be back here is extremely exciting and I’m looking forward to getting back into it.” – Guptill