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Sri Lanka eyeing series-levelling win in Nelson

New Zealand can seal the series with victory in fourth ODI, but will be up against a rejuvenated side

Sri Lanka eyeing series-levelling win in Nelson - Cricket News
Mitchell McClenaghan has also been impressive for New Zealand, being among the wickets and maintaining a tight economy rate
Sri Lanka will be confident of its prospects in the fourth One-Day International against New Zealand in Nelson on Saturday (January 2), with victory needed to keep the series alive.

New Zealand had won the first two matches comfortably, but the visiting side came back with a superb eight-wicket win in the third ODI, to keep the series margin to 2-1 with two matches to go.

Another factor that will give Sri Lanka a confidence boost is the fact that the match takes place at the Saxton Oval, the same venue as the third ODI. The surface is expected to have something in it for the spinners – like it did in the previous match – which could work to Sri Lanka’s advantage.

While New Zealand has the leg-spin of Ish Sodhi and the left-arm spin of Mitchell Santner to turn to, Sri Lanka is not lacking in spin resources, with several options and variety. There are two off-spinners in Sachithra Senanayake and Ajantha Mendis, and a wrist spinner in Jeffrey Vandersay. Milinda Siriwardana bowls left-arm spin and is a useful all-round weapon, while Tillakaratne Dilshan can also turn his arm over for a few off-breaks.

New Zealand's attack is more pace-heavy, and it had to rely on the part-time off-breaks of Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill in the previous game. There will be some change to the bowling attack with Tim Southee injured and Matt Henry, who took four wickets in each of the first two ODIs, back in the squad. Mitchell McClenaghan has also been impressive, being among the wickets and maintaining a tight economy rate and he was particularly effective in the third ODI, where he took 1 for 39 off nine overs, even as Sri Lanka chased down 277 in just 46.2 overs. 

New Zealand missed the explosiveness of Brendon McCullum at the top of the order in the previous game. The New Zealand captain, on the road to recovery from a back injury, is a doubtful starter for the fourth ODI as well. The ever-reliable Williamson led the side in the third match and looks likely to do so again in the fourth. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka can breathe easier if they don't have to deal with McCullum's intimidating presence at the top.

While spin will be Sri Lanka's strength in this match, New Zealand has the batting firepower to pose a threat, even with McCullum absent. For Sri Lanka, the way the top order fired in unison in the previous match will be good news, with Danushka Gunathilaka, Dilshan and Lahiru Thirimanne making telling contributions.  

With Sri Lanka having good spin resources and the momentum, it should fancy its chances at levelling the series. New Zealand, on the other hand, will hope that the loss on Thursday was just a departure from the norm, and look to seal yet another series win at home. 
 
Teams (from): 

New Zealand:
Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson (capt), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, George Worker, Mitchell Santner, Luke Ronchi (wk), Doug Bracewell, Adam Milne, Ish Sodhi, Mitchell McClenaghan, Matt Henry, Tom Latham. 

Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Danushka Gunathilaka, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Angelo Mathews (capt.), Milinda Siriwardana, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Sachithra Senanayake, Dushmantha Chameera, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Chamara Kapugedara, Jeffery Vandersay.

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