With just a couple of days to go for the World Cup 2011, fans are in for a taste of things come as another round of warm-up matches for the big tournament takes place on Wednesday, Feb 16. It is the time for aficionados to rehearse their chants and slogans and for the teams to orient themselves while individual players shrug off the scourge off injury and ill-form. The dress rehearsal to the big show is underway as the cricketing battalions assemble their troops and get ready to put their respective armouries to the test.
India Vs New Zealand
Starting time: 2:30 pm IST
India will take on New Zealand in their second World Cup warm up match secure in the belief that they hold a definitive edge over the Kiwis. After all, they consigned the Black Caps to a 5-0 drubbing in Dec last year and have won 10 of their 12 encounters against this opposition since the last World Cup. Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli were in devasting form in that series last year, putting on an aggregate of 563 runs between them, while Kiwi James Franklin came in third in the most runs list with 187 from 3 matches and no average.
No victory in the last four years was more thumping than the last time these two sides met. India bowled out New Zealand for a meagre 103, overhauling the total with 173 balls to spare. But the islanders are also capable of pulling of stunning wins, as demonstrated in August 2010, when they subjected India to a 200-run defeat during the tri-series tournament in Sri Lanka. In that match, Ross Taylor and Scott Styris pulled off glistening knocks of 95 and 89 respectively with seamer Daryl Tuffey taking 3/34.
It seems the Indian spinners are especially effective against the Kiwis, with off-break R Ashwin taking 11 wicket from 5 matches at an average of 21.90 and Yusf Pathan with 8 scalps to his name from the same number of matches. India in turn will have to watch out for the batting prowess of Taylor, Styris, Franklin and of course, Jess Ryder who has been in good knick of late.
England Vs Canada
Starting time: 9 am IST
England have played minnows Canada just twice so far in 31 years, emerging victorious on both occasions. In their 1979 match, the team from Ole Blighty bowled out the Canadians for a paltry 45 before romping home by 8 wickets with 277 balls left. That match was incidentally one of the shortest games in World Cup history.
But their more recent encounter was a far more close affair. Playing in their 2007 World Cup ground game at Gros Islet in the Caribbean, England compiled 279/6, propelled by a 66 from Ed Joyce. But the Canadian response was stronger than expected at 228/7 in 50 overs, the match thus being lost by a mere 51 runs. However, both sides have undergone several changes since then, so it will interesting to see how the new-look English side plays an equally fresh Canadian team on Feb 16, 2011.