Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Semi-Final Preview: Sri Lanka vs New Zealand

This is likely to be the closer of the two matches, with two very evenly matched sides looking to make it into the final. New Zealand have not made the final from this stage in five attempts, whilst of course Sri Lanka won the competition back in 1996. The recent ODI series and Test series in New Zealand were both drawn 2-2 and 1-1 and having finished second (SRL) and third (NZL) in the Super Eights, these teams are also ranked third (NZL) and fourth (SRL) in the world.

The pitch at Sabina Park in Jamaica is likely to favour the seamers, hence Ireland's success. Therefore you would imagine that the Kiwis have a natural advantage. However, in Chaminda Vaas and the returning Lasith Malinga, the Sri Lankans can more than match what New Zealand have to offer in Shane Bond and James Franklin. The spin department sees Muttiah Muralitharan and Daniel Vettori go to head to head, whilst there may also be roles to play for Sanath Jayasuriya and Tilakaratne Dilshan. New Zealand will have to decide on whether to stick with the impressive young Jeetan Patel, or include the extra seamer, though both Mark Gillespie and Michael Mason were given serious hammer by the Australians. The presence of Jacob Oram, Scott Styris and Craig McMillan, may just tempt Fleming to include Patel, whilst Sri Lanka have a difficult choice to make between Dilharo Fernando, who has been impressive at the death and Farheez Maharoof, who impressed against Ireland and can add a lower order batting threat.

The head to head batting makes for interesting reading for Stephen Fleming. Chaminda Vaas has dismissed him the most in ODI's and has had him for a duck on the last four occassions that the two have met. Kumar Sangakkara meanwhile loves batting against New Zealand, having made 69*, 79, 15, 89 and 36 in his last five ODI innings against the Kiwis. Meanwhile, in the recent Test series he made 4, 100*, 156* and 8. If New Zealand don't get him early they will be in trouble. Two other key players are likely to be the evergreen Sanath Jayasuriya, so key to Sri Lanka setting a large asking rate and Scott Styris, who has been in blistering form so far. Shane Bond knows the importance of getting Jayasuriya before he unleashes his destructive potential and you feel that if he is out for a low score then New Zealand can keep Sri Lanka within reach. Scott Styris meanwhile will be stressing to his team mates the importance of playing Murali with the same poise and composure with which he did in the last meeting between these two, which of course Sri Lanka won.

Prediction: It's going to be close. Win the toss and win I say.

Key Players: Kumar Sangakkara, Muttiah Muralitharan, Scott Styris and Shane Bond.

300 comments:

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Chrispy said...

Well only Murali came to the party of the four! Hence Sri Lanka's thumping victory. Horribly one sided in the end. Full credit to Sri Lanka and especially Jayawardene, they were able to accelerate at the end, something they have struggled with throughout the WC.

Richard Lake said...

Well I thought it would be closer thatn that as well, Chrispy.

Another of my pre-tournament predictions comes off, and I'm beginning to wish I'd had more than just a couple of quid on Sti Lanka pre-tournament!

Chrispy said...

I'm wishing I'd put the money on when they were ranked below England in the world and had to pre-qualify for the ICC Champs Trophy. I bet they had good odds then! My Aussie physio is gonna murder me if I'm right about Sri Lanka so I'm not sure who I want to win! Then again, he did tip New Zealand! ha!

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