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Seeking momentum under the blazing sun

The tinge of grass on the Wankhede pitch that greeted Sri Lanka during their training on Thursday morning was turning brown by the end of the day and the curator planned to leave the trimming to the eleventh hour. Abhijeet Kulkarni reports.

cricket Updated: Mar 18, 2011 01:48 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni

The tinge of grass on the Wankhede pitch that greeted Sri Lanka during their training on Thursday morning was turning brown by the end of the day and the curator planned to leave the trimming to the eleventh hour.

The amount of grass on the wicket 24 hours before their World Cup game against New Zealand left Sri Lanka bamboozled and they were already checking with the ground staff about their trimming schedule.

But with the heat touching an all time high for the month of March on Wednesday, the groundsmen were not willing to take any chance, as the possibility of a dry wicket cracking due to heat is always high.

While the ground staff covered their bases to tackle the heat, it would be a test of stamina and endurance when the two teams lock horns on Friday. The last group encounter for both the teams will be a day-night game but the humidity could be a major factor.

Both teams have already qualified for the quarterfinals but there is no clarity who their last eight opponents would be, even if their position in Group A becomes clear.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/18_03_11_pg20a.jpg

But both teams would seek to maintain the momentum as they prepare for the knockout stage. New Zealand have been on a roll since their loss against Australia in the second game. Stand-in skipper Ross Taylor insisted his team wanted to maintain the winning habit.

"If you win here then you take quite a lot of momentum into the quarterfinals," said Taylor. He would know its value, having been part of a squad that could not find the winning touch after a bad start in 2010.

New Zealand have little to worry in batting, but it would be interesting to see how they contain the Sri Lanka batsmen in the absence of the injured Daniel Vettori and Kyle Mills.

"Wickets in India are more balanced than in Sri Lanka. Chasing here would not be too much of disadvantage whereas in Sri Lanka, the conditions do change and it could be a slight advantage to a side batting first," Sangakkara said.

Apart from the failure against Pakistan, the Lankan top order has ensured the middle order rarely came into play in any of the other games.

Sangakkara would definitely like to give some of his other batsmen a knock although no captain will want any of his batsmen to fail.