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Aug 18, 2010

Sanga says the team is not distracted by the no-ball controversy.

 Anyone looking to predict how the second half of the tri-series will pan out will have a hard time finding a pattern from the first set of league matches. Consistency has eluded all three teams, each of whom have had one comfortable victory and one big defeat so far. The team losing on Thursday will be left staring at a must-win situation in their final league match.

Missing out on a bonus point has left Sri Lanka at a bit of a disadvantage, but their immediate challenge will be to switch the focus back to cricket after the brouhaha over the Suraj Randiv no-ball incident. There have been accusations of breaching the spirit of cricket, apologies aplenty and an internal probe into the incident by the Sri Lankan board. The controversy overshadowed a comprehensive defeat to India, after which Kumar Sangakkara criticised his team for batting that was "not at all professional and not up to standard at this level of cricket".

New Zealand are coming off a five-day break in their first tournament after a few months off. Their captain Ross Taylor thinks the extra rest could work in their favour since Sri Lanka are playing their third straight match of the tri-series after coming into the tournament on the back of a draining three-Test series against India. One of New Zealand's main worries will be the top-order batting. They have lost three wickets cheaply in both matches, leaving the middle order plenty of rescue-and-recovery work.
Form guide
(most recent first)
Sri Lanka: LWLWW
New Zealand:LWWLL
Watch out for...
Kane Williamson has had a difficult initiation to international cricket, he's yet to score a run after two innings. Talked up by Ross Taylor ahead of the series and rated as New Zealand's best backfoot player by the coach of his domestic side, Northern Districts, 20-year-old Williamson will be keen to justify the hype surrounding his call-up.
Another player who has had a couple of failures in the tournament is Mahela Jayawardene. A couple of months ago in Dambulla, he effortlessly piled on the runs during the Asia Cup to smoothen Sri Lanka's path to the final. He will be looking to recapture that form as the tussle for a final's spot heats up.
Team news
Given how little New Zealand have seen of Ajantha Mendis, the spinner could get a look-in ahead of Dilhara Fernando. It remains to be seen whether Sri Lanka will tinker with their lower middle order of Thilan Samaraweera and Chamara Kapugedera.
Sri Lanka: 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (capt & wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Thilan Samaraweera, 7 Chamara Kapugedera, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Suraj Randiv, 10 Ajantha Mendis/Dilhara Fernando, 11 Lasith Malinga
Allrounder Jacob Oram is expected to be back after missing the previous match due to a hamstring problem. New Zealand are likely to have to choose between Andy McKay and Tim Southee, both of whom had poor games against Sri Lanka last Friday, for a fast bowling slot.
New Zealand: 1 Martin Guptill, 2 BJ Watling, 3 Ross Taylor (capt), 4 Kane Williamson, 5 Scott Styris, 6 Jacob Oram, 7 Gareth Hopkins (wk), 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Daryl Tuffey, 11 Tim Southee/Andy McKay
Pitch and conditions
The match will be played on the same pitch used for previous matches. Both captains have talked about how the ball seams more under lights but swings less than it does during the day. Ross Taylor reckons 230-240 will be a par score.
The three captains have had differing views on the importance of the toss: MS Dhoni thinks it crucial, Taylor says it doesn't have big influence on the game while Sangakkara says it gives a slight advantage. Expect the captain calling correctly to choose to bat, though.
"The openers are there and it is a tough job when the ball does swing around. I am sure they are used to it and hopefully we can lose less wickets at the top and give ourselves a better chance through the middle."
Ross Taylor backs his struggling top order to come good
"As professionals, whatever happens before games or after games, it's immaterial when we go onto the field. There the focus is to win the game and try things out."
Kumar Sangakkara says the team is not distracted by the no-ball controversy
Source : ESPN

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