Sri Lanka's ODI captain says it's a critical time as his team has started preparations for the Cricket World Cup in England in May.

Lasith Malinga was recently named skipper for the three one-day internationals against the New Zealand starting tomorrow in Mount Maunganui.

He said the team had struggled for consistency over the last four years but said they couldn't afford to see themselves in a restore phase.

"Now is no time to restore because ... the World Cup is this year, but now we have to prove who is the best in Sri Lankan cricket, all the players are able to do that.

"The thing is all the younger players have good opportunities, now it's time to stand up and show their characters, this is a good opportunity to find who is better international players in our side".

Sri Lanka has another eight ODI matches before the World Cup and Malinga said it was a good time to test themselves in similar conditions to what they would face in the World Cup.

Malinga, who is likely to open the bowling tomorrow, expected the players to perform better in the ODI series having experienced New Zealand conditions during the Test series loss.

Malinga has been in and out of the side while he pass out with a series of injuries but said he was getting better.

He said a good beginning to their innings was key.

"We need to integrate our first 10 overs, how we going to adjust to conditions, how we build a good partnership, then we have time to gain momentum at the end of the innings."