The Sri Lankan cricket team will conclude its tour of New Zealand with a T20I match at Eden Park in Auckland.
In the United States, the match is scheduled to start Thursday at 1 p.m. ET. While it won’t be broadcast nationally on television anywhere in the US, you can still watch a live stream of the game on your computer, phone or streaming device via ESPN+, the new digital streaming service from ESPN that has exclusive coverage to dozens of sporting events every week.
You can sign up for a free seven-day trial of ESPN+ right here, and you can then watch a live stream of the game on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone (Android and iPhone compatible), tablet, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or other streaming device via the ESPN app.
If you can’t watch live, all games — including New Zealand vs Sri Lanka — that are streamed on ESPN+ are also available to be watched afterwards on-demand via ESPN.com or the ESPN app.
New Zealand vs Sri Lanka T20I Preview
The Black Caps swept a three-ODI set against Sri Lanka to open the new year, putting up formidable scores of 371, 319, and 364.
“When you bat first three times and you score over 320 that’s pleasing the way we set up the innings, put ourselves in dominant positions, and polished it off at the end,” Black Caps coach Gary Stead said, according to Stuff.
“As coach leading into a World Cup sometimes you think it would be nice to have a decider and a must-win situation but if we keep winning that will breed confidence as well.”
Stead seemed unconcerned with Sri Lanka’s own potent scoring during the ODIs, which followed a drawn three-day match and a test series that the Black Caps won 1-0.
“We’ve played on three pretty flat wickets,” Stead said, per Stuff. “You can say you need to score 350 to win World Cup games and we’ve shown we can do that but to me you only need to score one more than the opposition and if you’re good enough to bowl teams out then it doesn’t really matter. That’s still our goal, to have that attacking mindset and bowl teams out.”
The Black Caps are playing so well that some players are making Stead’s task of selecting a World Cup roster difficult.
After 18 months removed from the team, all-rounder Jimmy Neesham impressed so much over the first two ODIs — scoring 111 runs and taking five wickets — that Stead scrapped a plan to have him split time with Doug Bracewell. In the third ODI, Neesham took a crucial wicket from Niroshan Dickwella and hit an unbeaten 12 off six balls.
“He’s bowled with good pace and taken some key wickets for us,” Stead said, per Stuff. “We always knew he had the ability to do that but my challenge to Jimmy right through was to show the ability to back it up game after game. If he can do that he’s got the world in front of him, he could be a genuine threat to all teams.”
Bracewell will get a chance in the T20I, as Neesham will sit with a hamstring strain. Kane Williamson will rest up, and Tim Southee will take over as captain.
Sri Lanka sit in ninth place in the T20 rankings, having lost 12 of their last 16 matches. As a result, they lost their automatic bid to the “Super 12” round of the T20 World Cup in 2020.
“It’s really disappointing to need to qualify, because having won the World T20 in 2014, inside five years we’ve slipped lower than No. 8,” captain Lasith Malinga said, according to ESPN. “We have a chance to get into the World Cup by playing qualifiers, but we’re not a country that should ever have fallen that far. We’re a country that’s won two World Cups (including one in one-day cricket). We’ve gone wrong somewhere. But if the right people come into the right places, things can be put right quickly as well.”
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