New Zealand Vs Sri Lanka
Starting time: 2:30 pm IST
Mumbai, March 17: After their time in the sun against some hapless minnows, Sri Lanka runs into another formidable unit in New Zealand (see video). The opponents this time are no less than the table top-toppers who will be looking to consolidate their position at the head of Group A, while Sri Lanka will be hoping to pip them to the post.
It seems that these two sides are somewhat evenly matched. In the overall head-to-head, the Kiwis have won 35 times to Sri Lanka's 32. But since the last World Cup, the Sinhalese have managed to keep their noses in front with two wins to one loss. In those three encounters which unfolded in Sept 2009 and August 2010, Sri Lanka's Thilan Samaraweera emerged as a prominent batsman for his side.
Meanwhile, Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga was the most consistent bowler for Lanka, taking 8 wickets at an average of 18.50 and Kiwi Kyle Mills was the Black Caps spearhead with 7 scalps at 15.71. These two players have incidentally been the most effective bowlers for their respective sides in this World Cup as well (Mills with 6 wickets and averaging 12.33), so they will certainly be players to watch out for.
New Zealand's batting chart in the ongoing global event would certainly make the side smile. After all, Ross Taylor who could well be the trump card for the Kiwis, is averaging 105.00 at a strike rate well over 100. While he had propped up the middle order, the openers - Brendon McCullum (avg: 75.00) and Martin Guptill (avg: 70.00) have given the team the kind of solid starts from where they can really launch out towards a big total.
Sri Lanka's batting isn't looking bad either. Captain Kumar Sangakkara leads the pack with an average of 84.00 in the World Cup so far, while openers Upul Tharanga (avg: 64.50) and Tillakaraten Dilshan (avg: 56.60) are doing a commendable job as well. However, Mahale Jayawardene and Samaraweera may want to up their averages which are languishing below 34.00.
The Kiwi bowling meanwhile trumps Sri Lanka's with seamers Mills, Southee (8 wickets from 4 matches, avg: 17.00) and Oram (9 wickets from 3 matches, avg: 14.00) comprising a potent trio. It seems the Allan Donald touch has been working wonders for the side. On the other hand, no Sri Lankan bowlers have stood out, though there have been robust individual performances from the likes of Malinga and Dilshan.
All in all, Friday's day-nighter between the Kiwis and the Lankans is set up to be one of the most memorable matches this tournament.