Cricket: Boult back to bolster Black Caps bowling

By David Leggat in Mt Maunganui

Trent Boult could be the key to the series decider at the Bay Oval. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Trent Boult could be the key to the series decider at the Bay Oval. Photo / Brett Phibbs

New Zealand will have a reinvigorated Trent Boult to spearhead their bowling attack as they go in search of a series-clinching victory over Sri Lanka at Bay Oval today.

The world's third-ranked ODI bowler has been resting since the end of the second test at Hamilton on December 21 and is lining up for his first 50-over international since last June.

"I'm itching to go," the left arm swing bowler said yesterday.

"It was nice to get home to enjoy a Christmas break. The guys have been playing well and this is a big opportunity to press for a convincing win. I'm looking forward to getting back out there."

Boult's tour to Australia was hindered by a lingering back niggle, but he's feeling good and can reflect on a pretty successful 2015 in the coloured clothing.

In 17 ODIs he took 36 wickets at 19.77, including a starring turn with 22 wickets during the charge to the Cricket World Cup final in March.

The Herald will have live updates from 11am and Radio Sport commentary throughout the day.

He becomes the sixth fast-medium bowler used by New Zealand in the three and a bit games against the Sri Lankans - the fourth in Nelson on Saturday lasting only nine overs - and relishes the thought of robust competition for places.

Tim Southee is sidelined by a foot injury and Doug Bracewell has been rested after a busy summer.

"It's a pretty healthy battle. It's nice to see everyone coming in and doing their bit. Matt [Henry] has been superb and Doug's been going well all season. It's nice to be part of it."

The first match in Nelson on Thursday changed the complexion of the series.

New Zealand had walked away with the first two games in Christchurch, but Sri Lanka, on the back of a much improved fielding and bowling effort, followed by rousing batting against ordinary seam bowling, gave the hosts an eight-wicket crunching.

They can't win the series, but if New Zealand fail to win today - at a ground on which they have lost their only two previous ODIs - there will be considerable disappointment.

"Credit to Sri Lanka, they've pulled back nicely and put themselves in a good position," Boult said.

"If we can pick up from where we were in Christchurch and bring it up here, well I know everyone's keen to finish the series well."

There's a sense Sri Lanka now feel they are right back in the contest, having found conditions in Nelson last week more to their liking.

"We had a really good game in Nelson and will put our heart and soul into tomorrow," wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Chandimal said.

He said openers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Danushka Gunathilaka were given free rein to go hard in Nelson and it worked a treat, the pair putting on 98 in quick time to set up the chase for 276.

"Gunathilaka [65 off 45 balls] played brilliantly," Chandimal said.

"That's our plan for them to play their natural games."

New Zealand, however, believe it should not take much to get back to their best form today.

Captain Kane Williamson - regular skipper Brendon McCullum's back injury is taking a while to come right and he's out of action until the Pakistan ODIs starting on January 25 - and coach Mike Hesson are confident there's no need for major fretting over the loss last week. "We didn't play well but still got to 276 in Nelson," Hesson said. "So it wasn't a poor [batting] performance, but I think we're better than that.

"With the ball we've just got to get back to what we've been doing well."

Squads

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Adam Milne, Mitchell McClenaghan, Matt Henry, Trent Boult.

Sri Lanka: (from) Angelo Mathews (c), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Danushka Gunathilaka, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal, Chamara Kapugedera, Kithuruwan Vithanage, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake, Ajantha Mendis, Nuwan Kulasekara, Jeffrey Vandersay, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera.

- NZ Herald

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