With the Sri Lankan ODI series beginning tomorrow, so also begins the final test for the Blackcaps ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup.
Sri Lanka welcome back two star batsmen in the form of Tillekaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, and threatening allrounder Thisara Perera also returns to the side and all will take to the field tomorrow at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.
Ross Taylor and Tim Southee miss out for the Blackcaps while Grant Elliot gets his first ODI appearance in 14 months.
As the 7-match ODI series begins, it is important that the Blackcaps carry over their winning form from the recent test series and more runs for Brendon McCullum, who is likely to return to the opening batting role tomorrow, will be at the height of fans wishes.
It is important that Martin Guptill also fires backing up from good form in the Ford Trophy.
Adam Milne will also get a chance to sway growing opinion around the country that his place in the squad isn’t as deserving as that of snubbed Matt Henry. Stats clearly show that Henry has taken plenty more wickets in far fewer games than Milne, so it is crucial that Milne finds a few Sri Lankan wickets right from the get go.
According to the stats Matt Henry has taken 19 wickets in just 6 ODI’s while Adam Milne has taken 6 wickets in 11 ODI’s.
— Michael Pulman (@realmikepulman) January 10, 2015
Both Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum will play tomorrow also as the Blackcaps field 3 potential spinning options also including vice captain Kane Williamson.
While it would be forgivable, a loss isn’t what the Blackcaps need just as the New Zealand public is beginning to really get behind them.
Rotation is going to happen a lot in this series, the coaches want each player to get as much game time as possible prior to the World Cup, but whatever the results from the opening few games of this series it is crucial that the little things are done well.
The Blackcaps also need to remember that whichever way Sri Lanka perform in this ODI series should in no way be a screenshot for what their form will be come World Cup time either.
And so it begins, the final month of cricket before the big one.
Look for the Blackcap bowlers to target Dilshan at the top order as the series rolls on. It is imperative that Milne takes wickets in bunches this series, and the top five need to all put in significant runs in successive bats.