What: Sri Lanka vs New Zealand, 1st ODI
Where: Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Sooriyawewa, Hambantota
When: Sunday, 10 November 2013, 9 a.m. GMT
Live Stream/TV info: CSN TV
Weather: It's monsoon season in Sri Lanka, which doesn't spell good news for the upcoming series overall. The good news is that, at the time of writing, Accuweather was predicting a hot and sunny day in Hambantota. It will be very humid, with a real feel temperature of around 38 degrees. Tough conditions for those who aren't used to it.
Sri Lanka and New Zealand clash in a low-key, three-match encounter with the Black Caps having sent a lesser-strength side to the island nation. There's no Brendon McCullum or Ross Taylor while Kane Williamson is still out injured. Kyle Mills will have to captain the side and after New Zealand just lost a series to Bangladesh, he has a rather big task on his hands.
While the series might be somewhat meaningless, there's a big opportunity for the youngsters in the New Zealand to prove themselves. Players such as James Neesham, Corey Anderson, Colin Munro, Anton Devich and Adam Milne all have a chance to stake a claim for consideration in future.
However, it's tough for any team to tour the subcontinent, never mind an inexperienced one. There might be some solace for the Black Caps in that Hambantota does tend to be a little bit more pace friendly, so at least they will be easing into the series instead of being thrown in at the deep end.
Sri Lanka have gone all out with their squad—there are no half measures here and their skipper Angelo Mathews said that the aim is first to win the series before thinking of introducing youth. That's in contrast to the recent strategy in the T20 series against South Africa when a senior player was given a break in every game to make room for somebody younger.
Mathews was quoted by Cricinfo as saying that using younger players might only be considered once it's game, set and match:
The youngsters are good fighters, and they may have a chance, but the main thing is that we win this thee match series. The current squad of 16 has only been selected for the first two matches to in Hambantota. If we win the series, then of course we can think about giving an opportunity to the youngsters.
Whatever happens, Sri Lanka are probably the happier side with actually getting to play cricket again. They have not had any action since South Africa toured there in August following the postponement of a Test series away to Zimbabwe.
Sri Lanka are an entertaining one-day team and will play their exciting brand of cricket for the entire series. Expect big hits, crafty spin and a special all-round performance from the hosts.
Warm-up matches are hardly ever a yardstick for judging future performances, but Mahela Jayawardene has been in fine form lately. He hit 84 and 967 in the two warm-up games earlier in the week. He averages just 34.00 in 18 games in 2013, so he'll want to channel some of that good form to finish the year on a more positive note.
Corey Anderson is one of the young players who will want to prove his worth in the series. He's played just four ODIs and has impressed with both bat and ball on separate occasions. He hit 46 in his debut ODI, then took four wickets for 40 in his second game. His performances have been hot and cold since then, but if he could harness some of that positive energy and deliver an all-round performance, he'll be a handful.
Angelo Mathews (capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Perera, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Rangana Herath, Sachithra Senanayake, Ajantha Mendis, Ashan Priyanjan
Kyle Mills (capt), Corey Anderson, Anton Devcich, Grant Elliott, Andrew Ellis, Tom Latham (wk), Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, James Neesham, Rob Nicol, Luke Ronchi, Hamish Rutherford