It will be a virtual quarterfinal between Sri Lanka and New Zealand to get into the last four stage. The two teams are almost evenly matched although Sri Lanka hold a slender edge due to the variety in their bowling. Sri Lanka must regret not sealing their semifinal spot, losing to England after 'Hale-storm' took them by surprise.
The Chittagong pitch is a bit different from that of Mirpur. The ball comes on to the bat far better and batsmen are able to play through the line. That is why we have seen big scores piled up and chased down in most of the games. New Zealand will also fancy their chances due to the pitch conditions. Dew has been a factor in Chittagong too, and that is why teams winning the toss are deciding to bat second and scores in the region of 180-190 are not looking safe enough.
Lucky New Zealand
New Zealand have played organised cricket till now though they must consider themselves lucky to get past England in the rain-effected match. They have batsmen who have the reputation of being good T20 players. And Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor and Cory Anderson can single-handedly take the game away. But New Zealand's bowling lacks pace and the spin department doesn't have depth.
This is where Sri Lanka hold the edge. With Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath, Sachitra Senanayake, Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera, there is plenty of variety in the line-up. Sri Lanka's batting though is very much dependent on Jayawardene and Sangakkara. They will surely miss skipper Dinesh Chandimal, who is suspended due to slow-over rate by the team.
That will cause a big hole in the middle-order. Dilshan is still not his fluent self but he along with the likes of Kushal Perera, Mathews and Thisera Perera will need to rally around the big two for Sri Lanka's batting to be formidable.
The other game in the group — England versus Netherlands — will be of only academic interest. The team with any amount of motivation will be Netherlands, who would like to repeat their form of 2009 when they beat England in the World Twenty20 opener at Lord's.
The writer is former India skipper