As the clock strikes 2pm today, anyone planning on heading to Bay Oval for the cricket should be sitting on its grass banks, eyes locked on the middle.

Whichever way the toss goes, this contest is promising to fire from the very first ball.

If Sri Lanka are batting first, Black Caps fans can get behind Mount Maunganui local Trent Boult as he steams in at his home ground, looking for a strong and wicket-laden start to the one-day international (ODI) series.

Boult, fresh from a nine-wicket haul in the second test match in Christchurch last week, has taken more ODI wickets at Bay Oval than any other player.

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Over four matches at the Mount Maunganui venue, he has picked up nine wickets at an average of 22.11, according to ESPN Cricinfo figures.

"Day-night cricket under those lights is going to be exciting," Boult said earlier this week to the Bay of Plenty Times.

If New Zealand are batting first this afternoon, possibly an even more thrilling start awaits.

Veteran Sri Lankan right-arm fast bowler Lasith Malinga has arrived in the country to captain the team for both the ODI and T20 series.

Malinga, who will likely open the bowling, has taken 311 wickets in 210 ODIs.

His trademark slinging action and pinpoint-accurate yorkers are sure to entertain, both at the beginning of New Zealand's innings and at the death.

The 35-year-old spoke to media at Bay Oval yesterday and had already inspected the pitch.

He said it looked hardy and grassy with even-bounce, not much movement for the spinners, but maybe an opportunity for the batsmen to put on plenty of runs.

He said it was time for the Sri Lankan players to prove themselves as the country's best leading up to the 2019 Cricket World Cup, which will be staged in England and Wales from the end of May to mid-July.

"All the young players are getting a good opportunity and now it's time to stand up and show their character," Malinga said.

There is a good chance Malinga will come up against Black Caps Colin Munro and Martin Guptill in those opening overs – a contest within a contest that will be worth watching.

Asked about that potential face-off, Malinga said with a smile: "We can't predict what's going on tomorrow, but I [will] try my best."

He then acknowledged the ability of those two batsmen and said, with another smile, "We will see who is going to win tomorrow".

Sri Lankan captain Lasith Malinga taking questions from the media at Bay Oval. Photo / Scott Yeoman
Sri Lankan captain Lasith Malinga taking questions from the media at Bay Oval. Photo / Scott Yeoman

Munro told the Bay of Plenty Times earlier this week that he was looking forward to opening the batting again with Guptill, who has returned from a calf injury.

"We've had a good partnership in the past, so hopefully that can continue."

Left-hander Munro has had success at Bay Oval in the past, scoring 104 off 53 balls and 66 off 23 balls in two T20s against the West Indies in Mount Maunganui last January.

He also hit 101 off 54 balls against Bangladesh in a Bay Oval T20 in January 2017.

"Obviously that's Twenty20 format, but you know, one-day cricket now, for me not much changes," Munro said.

"I've got to still watch the ball and hit the ball."

Munro has spent a bit of time with Malinga in the IPL side Mumbai Indians.

"You know what you're going to get with him," he said.

"He's going to swing the ball, he's going to try and bowl me or hit me in front of the pads and then just nick out the right-handers. He usually goes full and straight early to lefties."

Guptill has also had past success at Bay Oval, scoring 102 off 109 balls against Sri Lanka in an ODI there in January 2016.

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson said yesterday that Malinga was a world-class player who was unique in how he operates.

"So certainly a weapon for them and we'll have to play well against him."

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson at Bay Oval yesterday, ahead of today's One Day International against Sri Lanka. Photo / Scott Yeoman
Black Caps captain Kane Williamson at Bay Oval yesterday, ahead of today's One Day International against Sri Lanka. Photo / Scott Yeoman

As for local paceman Boult, Williamson said he was always a big part of the Black Caps' attack.

"I think if he can get that left-armer's breeze, he'll be pretty happy."

However, Williamson said the ball did not tend to do a huge amount in the air in the white-ball format, "so it's keeping yourself honest in terms of the areas that you hit and the plans that you take into it".

He said Bay Oval was usually a fair ODI surface that holds together pretty well.