Sri Lanka's latest "mystery'' spinner, Akila Dananjaya is likely to be treated with scant respect by the Black Caps tonight.
Positive intent is the mentality New Zealand are taking into tonight's batting innings, against Sri Lanka in the first Super Eights match of the Twenty20 World Cup. And that means not allowing Dananjaya, especially, to bowl at them.
Ajantha Mendis was the last man to earn the "mystery'' moniker, but most people eventually worked him out and it wasn't until this tournament that he was able to earn a place in the Sri Lankan side again.
Mendis is now injured, after taking six for eight against an inept Zimbabwe side, with Dananjaya expected to take his place.
The tiny 18-year-old, who's barely five-foot tall, was scheduled to play in Sri Lanka's second game of the tournament, against South Africa, but was left out after rain shortened the clash at a seven-over lottery.
He should get a run at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium tonight, though, where New Zealand captain Ross Taylor said his team don't plan to stand and admire Dananjaya and the rest of Sri Lanka's spinners.
"Any against spin, if you let them bowl to you they dictate and if you can take the attack to them it is a little bit easier,'' Taylor said prior to Black Caps training yesterday.
"The main message is to be aggressive and not let them settle. You've got to assess it very quickly tomorrow.
"The two games that we've had [at Pallekele] against Pakistan and Bangladesh, there was one short boundary and one big boundary...if there is a short boundary then we need to attack that.''
There's a healthy respect for Sri Lanka, within the New Zealand camp. But not to the extent that anyone's intimidated about meeting them on home turf tonight.
"It's always nice to play the host country when it comes to a world cup,'' Taylor said.
"They are going to be a tough opposition, but we have some form players who are doing well at the moment, so it's time for some of the other players to step up and contribute to a team win.''
The Black Caps genuinely do have a useful-looking team here. Things got a bit untidy in their 13-run loss to Pakistan on Sunday but, in spite of all the things New Zealand did poorly in that game, they only lost by a few runs.
It shouldn't be forgotten that Pakistan have been finalists, champions and then semifinalists at the only three previous Twenty20 World Cup and possess a strong line-up again. Provided New Zealand smarten up some of their fielding, then they will be a match for anyone - including Sri Lanka.
This is a big night for Brendon McCullum, among others. He started this tournament with a hiss and a roar, belting Bangladesh for an international Twenty20-record individual score of 123.
But he'll be keenly aware that people sometimes regard him as someone who punishes minnows but doesn't always do the same to the better sides. The huge amount of time he's spent in the nets this week, would suggest he wants to change that perception.
There's a wee bit of uncertainty about which Pallekele pitch the game will be played on. New Zealand has played on the same wicket twice, while the fresh one used for Tuesday night's clash between Bangladesh and Pakistan was described by Taylor as "probably the best wicket in the competition so far.''
He doesn't know if it will be used again tonight, a fresh one prepared or the one from the previous games recycled.
New Zealand have a fit 15 to pick from, but it's unlikely that the final XI will differ from the one which lost to Pakistan.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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