New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Women's World T20 preview - Match 2
New Zealand Women and Sri Lanka Women have injury concerns but are confident of fielding strong teams
14 March 2016 18:32
Siriwardene is, after all, only one of two Sri Lankans with more than 700 runs in T20 Internationals, and she will have a key role to play when it takes on New Zealand in their opening Group A game at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi on Tuesday (March 15).
"The MRIs are clear and it's getting better," Siriwardene told reporters on match eve. "But, whether I will play or not (in the first match), the decision will be taken tomorrow."
New Zealand too have had its share of injury problems, as Katey Martin was hit on the eye during practice in Chennai. Suzie Bates, the White Ferns skipper, was hopeful of having one of her experienced players fit. "She will be training today and fingers crossed she will get through that and be okay and see the ball well tomorrow as it was a nasty eye injury," Bates said.
The two teams come into the tournament with contrasting forms. While Sri Lanka was whitewashed by India in Ranchi a few weeks back, New Zealand has won its last three series. After beating India 2-1 in Bangalore, it completed a clean sweep against Sri Lanka in a three-match affair at home before prevailing over Australia by another 2-1 margin.
With seven wins in nine matches, New Zealand is in prime form, but it was not looking much ahead. "Yeah, I would like to say that going into tomorrow's clash, we are favourites to win, but I know that T20 is a very fickle game and Sri Lanka in these conditions really play good cricket. We back ourselves to win but we are ready for Sri Lanka to step up," Bates added. "Everyone's goal is to win and I truly (believe) with the side we have got, we have got a good chance. If we play as well as we can, we can win the whole thing."
Batting has been one of New Zealand's strengths in T20s in recent times. Of its six scores of 160 plus, three have come within the last two years. Apart from Bates and Sarah McGlashan, Sophie Devine has led the way, recording a 18-ball 50 - the fastest in Women's T20Is - against India in 2015.
"You can't look past Sophie Devine in this format. She can hit the ball further than anyone in the game. She is an explosive player and we just love having her on our side," Bates said about her striker. "We have got a very experienced batting line-up which is one of our strengths and our top seven have played a lot of cricket."
Despite they hype, Bates was aware that Sri Lanka possessed a battery of spinners who could spoil its party. "Playing the turning ball on turning wickets isn't something New Zealand teams don't deal with at home, so coming here is always a challenge. The heat is one thing that's a bit of a change, although it's not as hot here as it was in Chennai. So it's just about getting used to if they are turning too much or a bit slow, what shots we can or can't play, but you can get rewards for your shots in the outfield. So if we play our natural game, we don't have to worry too much," she shared. "Our bowling group has been really successful as a unit despite some of them being really young at this level."
With New Zealand oozing in confidence and Sri Lanka also having to play Australia, South Africa and Ireland, Siriwardene was aware of the challenges that lay ahead.
"We are in a tough group. We have know that from the start. After the New Zealand tour in November, we practiced in Sri Lanka where we beat good teams. We also played against Under-17 boys and district teams to strengthen our preparation," Siriwardene offered.
"We did well against India as well in Ranchi, but didn't perform to our full potential. We had rested our best left-arm spinner and two others, but we'll play our full-strength squad tomorrow."
If Sri Lanka can use its experience and keep a check on the White Ferns, the Feroz Shah Kotla, could be host to a cracking game.
New Zealand Women: Suzie Bates (capt), Sophie Devine, Sara McGlashan, Erin Bermingham, Leigh Kasperek, Felicity Leydon-Davis, Katey Martin, Thamsyn Newton, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Rachel Priest (wk), Morna Nielsen, Amy Satterthwaite, Lea Tahuhu, Hanna Rowe.
Sri Lanka Women: Shashikala Siriwardene (capt), Chamari Atapattu, Nilakshi de Silva, Nipuni Hansika, Ama Kanchana, Hansima Karunaratne, Eshani Lokusuriyage, Sugandika Kumari, Yasoda Mendis, Harshitha Madavi, Oshadi Ranasinghe, Udeshika Prabodhani, Dilani Manodara (wk), Inoka Ranaweera, Prasadani Weerakkody.