New Zealand v Sri Lanka: Black Caps ready to mount another challenge
New Zealand will kickstart another bid to end their wait for a first Cricket World Cup crown against Sri Lanka on Saturday.
The Black Caps have reached the last four at the past three tournaments and were beaten in the final by co-hosts Australia in 2015, but they are yet to win the title.
Kane Williamson's men arrived in England full of optimism, yet the hosts are favourites and New Zealand were thrashed 4-1 by India in an ODI series earlier this year.
The Black Caps are fourth in the rankings and fancied to mount another strong bid to make the last four at the least.
An opener against Sri Lanka might well suit Williamson’s men, however, having enjoyed a 3-0 series sweep over their opponents in January.
New Zealand will be looking to make a strong start in order to be in the mix once again.
Captain Kane getting involved with the @cricketworldcup ‘Ultimate Delivery’ - a world record cricket ball relay around Cardiff finishing here at tomorrow’s venue - Cardiff Wales Stadium #CWC19#Cricket#BACKTHEBLACKCAPS#NZvSLpic.twitter.com/MGwLBXkMHz— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) May 31, 2019
HOW DID THEY WARM UP?
New Zealand's two warm-up matches were very much a mixed bag as they got to grips with India in a big six-wicket win, only to be thrashed by 91 runs by West Indies, an apparent rival for a top-four finish.
Both South Africa and Australia eased past Sri Lanka, whose only ODI victory this year came against Scotland.
WHAT THEY SAID
Kane Williamson: "I don't know how much the past really counts as we come into a tournament. It is on the day. We know in this competition that any team can beat any of the other teams, so we're certainly treating all our matches like that."
Dimuth Karunaratne: "We have a good side and we are fresh faces. We are trying to start again with this World Cup. I think we will be prepared really well."
- New Zealand have won seven of their past eight completed ODIs against Sri Lanka - including the previous four in succession.
- The Black Caps won eight games in a row from the beginning of the 2015 World Cup before losing to Australia by a margin of 101 runs in the final.
- Sri Lanka are still hunting for their first win at Sophia Gardens, having lost to New Zealand (2013), India (2013), England (2016) and Pakistan (2017) in their previous Cardiff encounters.