Group 1 has seen various encounters being marred by rain and two points will go a long way towards sealing a berth in the semis for these two sides.

The winner of the Group 1 clash at the Sydney Cricket Ground could build a bit of a gap from the other candidates, with rain interruptions and abandonments leaving all the sides jostling for vital points.

New Zealand could move up to 5 points and become the clear leader in the group, while Sri Lanka could also become the leader of the group with a win.

The importance of the contest was not lost on Tim Southee, who described Sri Lanka as a 'dangerous side', especially with the battery of spinners at their disposal.

Speaking at the pre-match conference, the pacer stated, "We know Sri Lanka is a dangerous side. They always pose a big threat, and spin has been a massive part of their game and a strength of theirs.

"Yeah, unsure how this wicket will play. Our guys have faced plenty of spin and plenty of good spinners over the years, as well, so yeah, should be a good game."

Despite a comprehensive win in the first game, New Zealand are likely to make a change with batter Daryl Mitchell back fit and firing.

He is expected to replace Mark Chapman in the XI, who Southee described as 'unlucky'.

"It's unlucky, I guess, for Mark Chapman, who hasn't really done anything wrong, but I think the way that Daryl... he's a valuable member of the side and he's done well for us, so yeah, now that he's fit and ready, he just comes back in. He'll slot back in there."

Sri Lanka on the other hand have been ravaged by injuries in the pace department, with Binura Fernando becoming the latest bowler to go down during the defeat against Australia.

Kasun Rajitha is likely to slot in the bowling unit, though assistant coach Naveed Nawaz was coy on the combination heading into the contest.

"We haven't made a decision on that as yet," he stated when quipped about Rajitha slotting into the playing XI.

Though New Zealand won their previous encounter against Australia before rain abandoned their clash against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka were dealt a defeat in Perth against Aaron Finch's men, Nawaz is backing his side to come good, especially in Sydney.

"I think Sydney is a very favourable venue for Sri Lanka. It has been throughout the years, and we are looking forward to this game against New Zealand," he concluded.

Predicted Playing XI

New Zealand:

Devon Conway (wk), Finn Allen, Kane Williamson (c), Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson

Sri Lanka:

Kusal Mendis (wk), Pathum Nissanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Charith Asalanka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dasun Shanaka (c), Chamika Karunaratne, Maheesh Thekshana, Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Rajitha

Key players

Tim Southee: The pacer was at his best in New Zealand's opening game at the same venue, ending up with figures of 3/6 in 2.1 overs against Australia. Getting swing and seam movement up front, Southee caused a lot of trouble for the Australian batter. New Zealand will again pin their hopes on Southee to replicate a similar performance at the same venue and hope that the veteran pacer rocks the Sri Lankan top-order up front at the SCG.

Kusal Mendis: The elegant opener has been in brilliant form in Australia, being the highest run-scorer in the tournament so far. He has so far notched up 176 runs in 5 matches, striking at a healthy 157.14 with two half-centuries. Mendis will again play a key role in countering the trickery of Tim Southee and Trent Boult up front and how he fares in the initial phases will be a key factor in Sri Lanka's batting innings.

Dream11 Fantasy Picks

Captaincy Pick: Devon Conway

Conway shattered plenty of records during his splendorous unbeaten 92 against Australia in the Super 12 round opener. Conway hammered seven boundaries and two sixes, striking at 158.62, as his calm and composed innings propelled New Zealand to 200. The southpaw has scored 431 runs in nine innings in 2022 at an average of 71.83. Conway has never played a T20I game against Sri Lanka and he could be the man to take on their spin attack. He averages 59.83 against spinners in T20Is (359 runs).

Must-Have Pick: Finn Allen

Allen replaced veteran New Zealand batter Martin Guptill in the playing XI against Australia. A rampant Allen was full of surprises for the Australian pacers. He smashed them for fours and sixes for fun and forced Pat Cummins to bowl the third over. Allen hit five fours and three sixes, striking at 262.5 during his 16-ball 42. Allen has amassed 511 runs in 19 T20I innings at a strike rate of 166.99 with two 50-plus scores.

Differential Pick: Chamika Karunaratne

The Sri Lankan all-rounder brings a great skill-set to the table. He can bat lower down the order and play those big shots to boost the scoring rate. He can also bowl you a handful of overs. Karunaratne scored 14 off seven balls against Australia with two fours – one-off Pat Cummins and the other off Josh Hazlewood. Karunaratne picked the crucial wicket of Glenn Maxwell before the latter could blaze runs. In 36 T20Is for Sri Lanka thus far, the 26-year-old has hit 254 runs at 16.93 and claimed 21 wickets.



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