SI Sports Talks
Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand
by Shazeen Ifamy
9th March 2023 marks the beginning of Sri Lanka’s much anticipated full tour of New Zealand consisting of Test, ODIs, and T20s which Sri Lanka hasn’t had in a long time. Asides from that, this series has a lot to offer for both teams but a bit more for Sri Lanka in particular. This is because Sri Lanka has a chance to make the ICC World Test Championship finals by winning the two-match test series and is also in desperate need of ICC Super League point to make the direct qualification cut for the ICC ODI World Cup this year which the three-match ODI series can provide given they win the series. As a result, Sri Lanka is entering this series with a lot to gain and a lot to lose. With that said, shall we have a quick preview of what this series has to offer?
To begin with, we need to look at the head-to-head record of the two teams which is in favour of New Zealand across all formats and in New Zealand, Sri Lanka’s record is simply mediocre. As a result, New Zealand head into this series as favourites and will be looking to continue their dominant run at home against Sri Lanka. On the other hand, Sri Lanka will be looking to improve their record in New Zealand given the importance of this series as mentioned before.
In continuation, now that we’ve understood the head-to-head record between the two teams we need to break down each format to see how each team stacks up. Firstly, looking at Test, New Zealand is knockout of the ICC Test Championship hence Sri Lanka has more to gain out of the test matches but it won’t be easy as mentioned before Sri Lanka needs to win both test matches to stand a chance to enter the ICC World Test Championship final in a country that they haven’t won a test match since 2006 and a test series since 1995. As a result, Sri Lanka has their work cut out for them and will need to make history while New Zealand will be looking to continue their dominant run at home where they haven’t lost a single test series since 2017.
Moving on to the ODIs, Sri Lanka is sitting precautiously in tenth place in the ODI Super League table and is at risk of not qualifying for this year’s ODI World Cup directly. New Zealand, on the other hand, is sitting prettily at second in the ODI Super League table and has basically already qualified. With that said, the three ODIs in this tour have more value to offer for Sri Lanka than New Zealand as Sri Lanka needs to win the series and perhaps all three matches to make it into the eight-team cutoff for direct qualification. As a result, Sri Lanka will be looking to play aggressive cricket in the ODI series in an attempt to win the series and will be boosted by the return of Angelo Mathews to the ODI team along with the possibility of the return of Kusal Perera.
Lastly, the T20 series doesn’t have much to offer for both teams rather than a chance to improve their ranking as New Zealand and Sri Lanka stand at fifth and eighth in the ICC ranking respectively. Asides from providing, a ranking boost opportunity the T20 series will also provide as much practice for the IPL-bound players of both teams as the series will collide with IPL 2023 hence match practice at the highest level will aid the IPL-bound players. Nevertheless, despite the t20 series not having much to offer, it will still provide some high-action cricket with t20 superstars such as Wanindu Hasaranga, Glenn Philips and so in show.
Overall, this tour promises to be an interesting series with some quality cricket on display across all three formats. New Zealand with not much to lose in the tour will be playing pressure-free cricket and will be looking to extend their dominant run at home against Sri Lanka. On the hand, Sri Lanka with a lot to gain from this series will be under pressure but will look to play aggressive cricket as they have everything to gain and hence will be giving it their all. In conclusion, Sri Lanka’s tour of New Zealand is a tour much looked forward to as Sri Lanka is touring the island nation of New Zealand after 2018 with a lot to offer.
So, which team do you think will come out in colours?
SI Sports Talks