CARDIFF (Sporting Alert) — After beating England in their recent One Day International series, New Zealand are confident of taking that form over into Sunday’s ICC Champions Trophy clash with Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka, despite losing to the West Indies in a warm up game, remains one of the tournament favorites and Kiwis captain Brendon McCullum is expecting a challenging game in their group opener.
“It’s going to be a good challenge,” McCullum said. “Sri Lanka has obviously dominated us in recent history.
“The wickets that we played on back in Sri Lanka in that series will be a lot different than what we’re expecting over here during this Champions Trophy.
“So we know they’re a very good team. They’ve got some mystery spinners and some obvious quirks about their bowling line up lingering, especially they’ve also got some experienced batters and a tough proposition.”
He added: “But they are going to be a tough team. But every team in this competition is very strong side. So our approach is very much on making sure that we play as well as what we have in the last few games in this form of the game.”
Asked about the spirit in the camp ahead of the game, the New Zealand skipper replied: “We’re quietly confident. We think we are a good One Day unit with experienced players and a feel or idea or understanding of the style of play which suits us.
“We think we’ve got some match winners amongst our lineup, and we’ve had to battle harder in English conditions over the last week or so in this form of the game, and we are confident that it will give us some sort of assistance.
“But in saying that, the opposition has been playing some warm‑up games over here as well, so I guess we’ll see the merits of warm‑up games versus match hardened games unfolding over the next week or so.”
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews warned his team not to get complacent.
“New Zealand are a very dangerous side to beat, and it’s a very hard team to beat as well because they’ve gotten used to the conditions and played some very good games in the recent past against the English team,” Mathews told reporters.
“Yeah, I mean, we can’t be complacent. We’ve got to be ready to go from ball one.
You know, we know what they can do. They can, on any given day, any team can beat any team. So the best playing ‑‑ the best eight teams are going to have to have a chance. It’s whoever plays best on that day.”
Opener Martin Guptill was in very good form in the England series and will be one of the more dangerous batsmen for New Zealand.
Everyone tries to workout a plan to stop his free scoring and Sri Lanka will be no different.
“Yeah, (we) definitely have a plan for him. He’s been in tremendous form lately. He got a couple of honors against the English team,” Mathews said.
“So we’ve set a few plans. Well, as I said before, we’re not looking at any individual in a team. If we focus on Martin Guptill only, someone else will come in and do the job for them.
“So we are looking at all their top seven batters, and we can’t be complacent once again, as I said before.”
New Zealand (squad): BB McCullum*, DAJ Bracewell, IG Butler, GD Elliott, JEC Franklin, MJ Guptill, MJ McClenaghan, NL McCullum, KD Mills, C Munro, L Ronchi†, TG Southee, LRPL Taylor, DL Vettori, KS Williamson
Sri Lanka (squad): AD Mathews*, LD Chandimal, LHD Dilhara, TM Dilshan, RMS Eranga, HMRKB Herath, DPMD Jayawardene, KMDN Kulasekara, SL Malinga, BMAJ Mendis, MDKJ Perera, NLTC Perera, KC Sangakkara†, SMSM Senanayake, HDRL Thirimanne