All eyes on Feb 12th's WC warm-ups

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Published: Friday, February 11, 2011, 18:39 [IST]
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All eyes on Feb 12th's WC warm-ups

With just one week to go for the World Cup 2011, fans are in for a taste of things come as the first round of warm-up matches for the big tournament is all set to kick off on Saturday, Feb 12. It is the time for afficianados to rehearse their chants and slogans and for the teams to orient themsleves while individual players shrug off the scourge off injury and ill-form. The dress rehearsal to the big show is all set to get underway as the cricketing battalions assemble their troops and get ready to put their respective armouries to the test.

Kenya Vs West Indies
Start time: 9:30 am IST
Venue: R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo

These two sides have played each other a total of six times, Kenya springing a shock 73-run defeat on the West Indies in their first encounter which unfolded during the 1996 World Cup. But the Windies recovered admirably from that anomoly to win its next five matches against the Eastern Africans.

The side from the Caribbean's most convincing victory against Kenya has come from the last time these two teams met, which was on Mar 4, 2003 when the former won by 142 runs. On that occasion, Chris Gayle made 119 off 151 balls as his side compiled 246, before shooting out the Kenyans for 104 with Windies pace bowler Vasbert Drake taking 5/33. But times have changed since 2003 and both teams have seen near upheavals with exhuberent new players coming to the fore.

Sri Lanka Vs Netherlands
Starting time: 9:30 am IST
Venue: Pallekele Stadium

Having played each other thrice in all, Sri Lanka, not surprisingly leads the Dutch 3-0. Sri Lanka's most emphatic win against these opponents was at Colombo, in their first one-day engagement, which was on Sep 16, 2002 when the former won by the huge margin of 206 runs. The next two match-ups were both in Amstelveen where in the first outing, Sanath Jayasuriya and Tillakaratne Dilshan notched up 157 and 117 respectively to take their side to the world record highest total of 443, enabling them to inflict a 195-run defeat.

But in their final encounter, the Dutch fought valiantly, falling short by a mere 55 runs. Dutch all-rounder Darron Reekers, has an average of 42 against the Lankans at strike rate of 115 and his fast-bowling has garnered him 4 wickets from the 2 matches. So he will certainly be someone to look out for.

Bangladesh Vs Canada
Starting time: 2:30 pm IST
Venue: Chittagong

These two sides are more even matched than one would imagine. They have each won one match against each other. However, Canada's victory came as far back as Feb 11, 2003 when Ian Billcliff top-scored with 42 and Austin Codrington took 5/27 to hand their side a 60-run win. Neither of those players are in Canada's line for this World Cup. Bangladesh's win was more recent, occurring on Feb 28, 2007, when they beat the Canadians by 13 runs. Present captain Shakib Al Hasan top-scored with 134 and took 2/36 in that encounter. So, it will be a very interesting contest between these two teams as one gets to see just how far they have come from those times.

Ireland Vs New Zealand
Starting Time: 2:30 pm IST
Venue: Nagpur

New Zealand has beaten Ireland in their two previous encounters, both times, the victory margins being substantial. On Apr 9, 2007, Ireland lost by 129 runs when Peter Fulton scored 83 off 110 balls to take New Zealand to a total of 263. The Irish tried to fight back with a gritty 49 off 45 balls from present middle-order batsman Kevin O'Brien. But the Kiwis prevailed with captain Daniel Vettori taking 4/23.

Ireland's next defeat was even more emphatic as they lost by a mammoth 290 runs. The Black Caps piled on a gigantic total of 402, thanks largerly to opening stand between James Marshall and present opener Brendon McCullum of 274 runs, while the Irish were bundled out for 112 in 28.4 overs. Tim Southee who is in the Kiwis' bowling line-up for this World Cup, took 3/22 in that match. So the challenge for the Irish in this World Cup warm-up match, will be to try and stave off too large a defeat.

South Africa Vs Zimbabwe
Starting time: 2:30 pm IST
Venue: Chennai

There isn't much of a comparison between these two teams as South Africa have won 29 of their 32 matches against Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's only two wins against the Proteas came in a match in the 1999 World Cup in England and then a few months later, in Durban when the former was arguably at their strongest. Since then, the South Africans have dominated all the way through.

In the last ODI series between the two sides, which was in Oct 2010, the Proteas trounced the minnows 3-0. In the very last match, Proteas batsmen J P Duminy and A B de Villiers put on a stand of 219 and their side surged to 399. In reply, the hapless Zimbabweans could only manage 127 all out in 29 overs, with wicketkepper Tatendu Taibu top-scoring with 28.

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