Sri Lanka have the edge over Kiwis


THE REALITY CHECK – Though the match in Mumbai today isn’t a must-win one for both sides, a win for either team can be crucial for the group standings. If New Zealand win, they can top the group. Sri Lankan may not get to the top of the group (their game against Australia was washed out and points shared) but a win may change their next round rivals.
Sri Lanka have done well in the tournament except one match against Pakistan. The Black Caps are hit by injuries and for them to negate the batting talents of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene will be a big ask especially in the absence of Daniel Vettori and Kyle Mills. Apart from the batsmen, Sri Lanka also have some valuable all-rounders and one of the greatest spin bowlers of all times is on his farewell tour.
Sri Lanka are playing their first game away from home but that shouldn’t be much of a problem as the conditions are more or less the same. Sri Lanka will be aiming to win big here which will also help boost their net run rate which can come into play if rain, as is the forecast, affects Pakistan-Australia game in Colombo. New Zealand were brilliant against Pakistan but the team has been hit by injuries. However, hey still have the firepower to test Sri Lanka if it is their day.
The batting line-up is hit-and-miss but at least has power hitters all the way down the order. Stand-in skipper Ross Taylor has found his touch with the bat. Brendon McCullum scored a hundred in last game at the same venue. The Kiwis are also a decent fielding unit which gives them added advantage. The weaknesses for New Zealand however is their bowling which is severely handicapped by the absence of Daniel Vettori.
The seam bowlers lack the cutting edge which is essential in these conditions. But if New Zealand bowl second and there is some seam movement, Tim Southee, Jacob Oram and Hamish Bennett can cause a few problems for Sri Lankan batsmen.
Form Guide & Conditions – Sri Lanka have won 32 while New Zealand have won 35 off the 72 games played between the two sides. This is going to be the second game at the refurbished Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai and the pitch is expected to be batting friendly as it was in the last game. There can be some humidity in the air but overall the weather is expected to be clear for the day.
Watch Out For – Ross Taylor can hit the ball hard and he is doing just that off late. After a superb hundred against Pakistan the brawny batsman has got back in the form and can cause trouble for Sri Lanka. Muttiah Muralitharan has had a quiet tournament so far according to his standards. But with his clever variations and New Zealand’s vulnerability against quality spin, Murali will be the one to watch out for from Sri Lanka.
Who Wins – Sri Lanka are a more settled team at the moment. And for a team like New Zealand to beat Sri Lanka in the sub continent looks highly unlikely.
Likely Playing Elevens – New Zealand: Guptill, McCullum (wk), Ryder, Taylor, Franklin, Styris, Williamson, Oram, Southee, Bennett/Tuffey, Woodcock.
Sri Lanka: Dilshan, Tharanga, Sangakkara (wk), Jayawardene, Samaraweera, Silva, Mathews, Kulasekara, Perera, Malinga, Muralitharan.