New Zealand completed yet another tight win in the second T20I to seal the series 2-0. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, tried hard in the second T20 but again it wasn’t enough to topple a good New Zealand unit. Colin de Grandhomme was once again among runs as he along with Tom Bruce stitched a match-winning 108 run partnership to chase down 161 in the final over.
For the visitors, Tim Southee was once again in great form taking 2/18, supported ably by Seth Rance was New Zealand’s best bowler with figures of 3/33. Sri Lankan batting once again struggled throughout except for the partnership between Avishka Fernando and Niroshan Dickwella in the middle overs. The bowling also struggled for consistency with captain Lasith Malinga particularly struggling with control in the second game.
New Zealand has won the series already will be looking for a clean sweep with a win at Pallekele in the third T20I as well. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, will be looking to restore some pride in the final T20I. Captain Malinga will be hoping for some consistency from the batters which has deserted them throughout the series. The top order has been struggling as well except for the one score of 79 from Kusal Mendis. New Zealand also has been struggling with the openers but having won the series already, they might give the combination one more game. Ross Taylor did not play the last game, so it will be interesting if he will play the final game.
With both teams struggling with injuries, the team selection will be interesting.
Niroshan Dickwella (Sri Lanka): Sri Lanka batting has been struggling throughout but Dickwella has shown some good form in the first two games. He would want to keep that firm going and probably kick on this time to get a big score.
Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka): Even though Malinga had a poor game in the second T20I, he still is Sri Lanka’s best bowler in this format. Malinga would want to step up with the ball in this final game to give his team a win to end this series on a high.
Colin de Grandhomme (New Zealand): Colin de Grandhomme has been in brilliant form with the bat through this tour and has continued the same in T20Is as well. He has played match-winning knocks in both the games and will be crucial in the middle order once again.
Tim Southee (New Zealand): Captain Southee has been in tremendous form in the T20 games so far. He has been economical and has also picked up wickets. He would want to continue that good form into the final game to give his side the series sweep.
Sri Lanka XI:
Kusal Perera(w), Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Niroshan Dickwella, Dasun Shanaka, Lahiru Madushanka, Isuru Udana, Wanidu Hasaranga, Lasith Malinga(c), Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan
New Zealand XI:
Colin Munro, Tim Seifert(w), Ross Taylor, Daryl Mitchell, Colin de Grandhomme, Tom Bruce, Mitchell Santner, Scott Kuggeleijn, Tim Southee(c), Seth Rance, Ish Sodhi
What did they say?
“Losing doesn’t matter as long as the team shows character. Of course, we want to win the final game but also want to test our bench strength” Said Lasith Malinga
“I’ll ice the knee and rest up the next couple of days. I think it should be right, fingers crossed anyway.” Said Tom Bruce hoping to be fit for the final game
Both the teams are injury stricken and have very little choice in terms of personnel for the final T20. New Zealand who has had a wonderful tour would want to end it on a high with a win but the hosts would want consolation and try to avoid a whitewash.