New Zealand’s chance to experiment with series in the bag

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On Saturday, New Zealand dropped six catches – something that might happen to them once every 50 games, at most. A Sri Lanka player produced the batting performance of his life. And yet, such is the disparity between these teams that, a 21-run victory to New Zealand was nevertheless the result. The Sri Lanka attack’s toothlessness through the middle overs – especially in the absence of the suspended Akila Dananjaya – once again proved a definitive factor. As did the frailty of Sri Lanka’s own middle order, which lost five wickets in the space of five overs. It is no surprise that Sri Lanka have lost each of their last eight live matches.
Having sewn up the series, the hosts, meanwhile, are free to experiment. Seamer Doug Bracewell, who sat out the first two games, will likely get a run in Nelson. A good performance on Tuesday might see him considered for the squad for the five-match ODI series against India, later in the month.
There are no big selection decisions to make on the batting front, but happily for New Zealand, virtually their entire top order is in form, now that Colin Munro has broken his lean streak. Henry Nicholls, who has one fifty from his nine most-recent completed innings, could do with some runs, but so good has his Test form been that you sense a substantial one-day score can’t be far either. In both matches so far, he has also arrived at the crease just as New Zealand were beginning their death-overs assault, which left him with little scope to build an innings.
In their last two ODI series, Sri Lanka have lifted slightly after the series had already been lost. They are perhaps no closer to working out their World Cup combination than they were just before the series, but a victory in Nelson might at least give them their first win of the tour.