SL vs Kiwi 4th ODI: Sunny Nelson awaits after rainy Auckland

Tuesday, 20 January 2015 01:32 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

ESPNCricinfo: The Sri Lanka and New Zealand teams see so much rain between them, they could travel around the more arid regions of the world to provide drought relief. Auckland’s only rains in two weeks of glorious sunshine coincided with match-day, and apart from Martin Guptill, who hit a half-century, and Angelo Mathews, who claimed three scalps, the teams took only some wet uniforms away from the 28.5 overs in the field on Saturday.   New Zealand will feel the top-order issues that troubled them in Christchurch and Hamilton were dealt with at Eden Park, but while Guptill’s 99-run stand with Tom Latham was promising, there were two mitigating factors. The pitch had not offered much in the way of seam or spin, and once the rain began to fall, Sri Lanka’s attack had to contend with a wet ball as well. Mathews squeezed out three wickets for Sri Lanka through his economy, but their seam attack still feels a little light on penetration. Lasith Malinga’s introduction will still take some time, and the visitors may rely heavily on their spinners for breakthroughs in the interim. With Sachithra Senanayake, Rangana Herath, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Jeevan Mendis all having contributed encouraging spells in the past 10 days, Sri Lanka will hope for a Nelson surface that offers something for the slow bowlers. Brendon McCullum’s all-format ballistics have served him beautifully in the early summer months, but with a World Cup ahead, he must now sustain that form for another 10 weeks. Sri Lanka have attempted all manner of bowling plans to him, from peppering him with short stuff, to starving him of the strike, but he has bashed his way out of those gauntlets, and remains the series’ top run-scorer. He was out for 28 at Eden Park, and Sri Lanka will hope that innings marks McCullum’s descent from the stratosphere. McCullum, though, has arguably never batted more confidently, though his tossing leaves plenty to be desired. Lahiru Thirimanne has had a number of starts on tour, but as his only fifty-plus score came when Sri Lanka had virtually lost the second Test, he is yet to make a meaningful contribution to the side. He has expanded his ODI batting in the last 18 months, and has an unflappable temperament to boot, but he will be desperate to string a few strong innings together, to make his No.6 spot safe. Grant Elliott is available for Tuesday’s game, meaning he will likely reclaim his No. 5 spot from Daniel Vettori. The team will make a call on Kane Williamson on match-day, and Kyle Mills may also be in the mix. Sri Lanka will not hesitate to play four spinners (including two allrounders) if the conditions suit, but will more likely play an extra seamer. They have flown in leg-spinning allrounder Seekkuge Prasanna and quick Dushmantha Chameera as cover for Suranga Lakmal and Rangana Herath, who had been in doubt with a groin strain and muscle soreness respectively. But as both frontliners now appear to have recovered, neither of the new entrants are likely to play on Tuesday.