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ICC CWC 2011: Semi Final 1: NZ vs SRI Preview

Home side Sri Lanka will be looking forward to make it to the WC Final for 2nd time in a row and New Zealand will be looking to make it to the WC Final for the 1st time in the history. Both the teams played vs each other in the group stages in which Sri Lanka won convincingly by 112 runs. Both the teams had played each other in the Semi Final of WC 2007 in Westindies in which Sri Lanka had won.

Looking at both the teams, Sri Lanka looks to favourite to win tomorrow’s match but funny things have happened in this World Cup and New Zealand can beat Sri Lanka to go through to the final. Srilankans are looking better in both Bating and bowling department. More than that they will be playing on their home soil and no one knows the Premdasa wicket better than them. Sri Lankan openers T.M.Dilshan and Upul Tharanga both are in superb form and have scored 2 centuries in the WC including in the Q/F vs England at the very same venue in Colombo. Kumara Sangakkara is also in a very good form.  Dilshan has scored 394 runs and Sangakkara and Tharanga have scored 363 runs and they are among the top run getters of the WC so far. Mahela Jayawardene have also scored 200 runs at an average of 40. Though Lower order batsmen like Samarveera, Chamara Silva and Matthews haven’t clicked but they have not got enough opportunity as well as the top 4 Sri Lankan batsmen are doing their job very well. The bowling department is being led by Malinga and Muralitharan. Malinga took 6 wickets in his 1st match vs Kenya but after that he has taken only 2 wickets in the next 3 matches that he has played. Muralitharan has bowled brilliantly even with the injured knee. He was not completely feet in the quarter final and now Lankans are hoping that he would be fit before the Semi-Final. Angello Matthews’ all round skill can be vital for the Lankans. Kulasekara’s medium pace can be tough to face on the slower wicket.

Talking about New Zealanders, they have come into the semi final after beating South Africans. Who were amongst the favourites of winning the tournament this time. None of their batsman have dominated the tournament completely but they have done their job at times. McCullum, Ryder and Guptil have got some good start but on most of the occasions they have failed to convert them into a big one. Ross Taylor who played a brilliant knock vs Pakistan on his Birthday is also hit the most sixes in the tournament so far. He has hit 15 sixes of 7 matches. He has scored 288 runs from 5 innings in the WC so far. Their bowling has looked good on most of the occasions. Tim Southee is the 3rd leading wicket taker in this tournament with 15 wickets with a brilliant economy rate of 4.09. Jacob Oram has also bowled well in this tournament and he was Man of the match vs South Africa because of his bowling performance. Daniel Vettori hasn’t been among the wickets but he has looked good with the bowl. He has also recovered from his injury completely. Nathan McCullum has played a role of an All-rounder for the black caps. He has taken 8 wickets and has also scored some quick runs in the death overs.  New Zealand’s fielding during this WC has been brilliant and with that they can change the cause of the game at any time. From New Zealand’s point of view I would love to see Jacob Oram coming to bat ahead of Vettori and Nathan McCullum. Though he hasn’t done well with the bat bus he has bowled and fielded very well and his confidence level must have boosted and that can help him in getting his batting form back.

The same pitch will be used for this match which was uded for Sri Lanka-England Q/F game 3 days back. The track was very slow and is expected to remain the same and even slower as the game progresses. No doubt that the team which win the toss would like to bat first. NZ will have to play well vs the Lankan spinners.

Team News

Sri Lanka:

If Muralitharan is even 60-70% fit, he’ll play this big game. And Sangakkara will have to choose one from Kulasekara and Hearath.

Likely Squad: T.M.Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Kumara Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, T.Samarveera, Chamara Silva, Angello Matthews, Lashith Malinga, Muralitharan, Mendis, Kulasekara/Hereath.

New Zealand:

Kyle Mills has gone back to home after an injury and Andy Mckay has joined the squad as his replacement. Kiwis had playued with 3 spinners vs SA in Q/F but I am sure they will not do the same vs Lankans. Kane Williamson can do the job of the 3rd spinner. Either Daryl Tuffey or Andy McKay will get a game. If they decide to go with Franklin than they will get an advantage of longer bating order but a specialist bowler will be missed.

Likely Squad: Martin Guptil, Brendon McCullum, Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris, Kane Williamson, Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori, Nathan McCullum, Tim Southee, Tuffey/McKay/Franklin.

As New Zealand is my 2nd favourite team after India, I would like that they win tomorrow. But Sri Lanka is stronger than them, especially when the Lankan Lions are playing in their den. I would give it 65:35 in Sri Lanka’s favour.

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