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Injury Plagued New Zealand Look to Soldier On as Sri Lanka Hope to Capitalise

New Zealand may have sealed the three-match T20 series against Sri Lanka after winning the first two games, but were faced with a unique problem as only 10 players were fit and Hamish Rutherford was drafted in as an SOS to give Tim Southee a chance to keep his 100% record as captain in the format intact.

Cricketnext Staff |September 5, 2019, 10:18 PM IST
Injury Plagued New Zealand Look to Soldier On as Sri Lanka Hope to Capitalise

New Zealand may have sealed the three-match T20 series against Sri Lanka after winning the first two games, but were faced with a unique problem as only 10 players were fit and Hamish Rutherford was drafted in as an SOS to give Tim Southee a chance to keep his 100% record as captain in the format intact.

Martin Guptill has been ruled out of the third match on Friday with an abdomen strain, while all-rounder Tom Bruce tweaked his right knee. Lockie Ferguson had already been ruled out of the series with a fractured thumb.

Hamish Rutherford, who’s a left handed batsman, is likely to get a look in given the situation with injuries to senior players. Although what will give Southee relief is the news that Ross Taylor, who sat out of the second match with a hip complaint, is fit again.

Once Southee is able to pin down his final playing eleven he will need his batsmen to dig in, especially the top order who folded like a pack of cards in the second game.

Sri Lanka on the other hand continue to be in dismal form but will look to wrap up the series on a high, even though they have their own injury problems to deal with.

The hosts like playing in Pallekele too and have a record of seven wins and four losses in 13 matches at the venue.

Kusal Mendis, who scored a career-best 79 in the first game, and Shehan Jayasuriya, who is also a spinning option, are unlikely to feature in the game as they recover from their collision near the boundary rope in the final over of New Zealand's chase on Tuesday.

The absence of Jayasuriya also means Malinga and Sri Lanka will likely have to go in with an all pace attack.

Mendis will be replaced by Danushka Gunathilaka, after having been in good form off late, and will be keen to capitalise on his return to the national fold.

Lasith Malinga, who is one wicket away from becoming the fastest to 100 T20I scalps, will also need his bowlers to stand up and support him especially given how they let the Kiwis off the hook in the second game.

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