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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

ICC World Cup 2019: New Zealand vs Sri Lanka - Big Player Battles

ICC World Cup 2019: A look at the big player battles as New Zealand open their campaign against Sri Lanka on Saturday.

cricket Updated: Jun 01, 2019 08:01 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, right, watches as teammate Ross Taylor celebrates.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, right, watches as teammate Ross Taylor celebrates.(AP)

New Zealand are happy to go under the radar as they prepare to launch their campaign for World Cup glory against Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Saturday.

The Black Caps reached the final four years ago for the first time after six semi-final defeats, only to be soundly beaten by Australia in Melbourne.

Kane Williamson has replaced the swashbuckling Brendon McCullum as captain but the core of the team that came so close in 2015 remains.

READ: Poll: Can Pakistan bounce back after dismal show against West Indies

Since the last World Cup, New Zealand have risen as high as second in the world rankings but have also been beaten at home by South Africa, England and India.

Newly appointed captain Dimuth Karunaratne, who has returned to the ODI fold after four years away, has been handed the responsibility of lifting a team that have lost eight of their past nine ODIs. But Sri Lanka have an impressive World Cup record, with one title, two runners-up finishes and one semi-final appearance.

Dimuth Karunaratne vs Trent Boult

Trent Boult has been enjoying a brilliant run of form in the recent times and with eight wickets in the two warm-up games against India and West Indies, the left-arm pacer has established himself as the force to be reckoned with ahead of the tournament. On the other hand, this will be the perfect platform for Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne to announce his comeback after he was included in the team for the first time since 2015. The opener did play a number of matches including one against Scotland and a couple of warm-ups but he will need a big knock to provide a perfect start to his team.

Kane Williamson vs Lasith Malinga

Kane Williamson is well known for his temperament as a batsman and with two half centuries in the warm-up encounters, he has started the campaign well. New Zealand are coming into the tournament with a comparatively young team and a lot will depend on the skipper’s performance if they want to reach the knockout stages. However, against a veteran like Lasith Malinga, it will not be an easy task for Williamson to score freely. With 43 wickets under his belt, he is the sixth highest wicket-taker in World Cup history and considering his recent form, he will be one of the key assets for Sri Lanka.

Angelo Mathews vs Ish Sodhi

When it comes to the conditions of England and Wales, it is not often when the spinners will get a better deal than the fast bowlers. But, when it comes to Ish Sodhi, New Zealand have a spinner who can still make the most of the situation with his consistency and subtle variations. Up against a seasoned veteran like Angelo Mathews, that can turn out to be the difference as the former Lanka skipper has not always fared well in big tournaments and his wicket can trigger a downfall for the middle order.

Thisara Perera vs Ross Taylor

32 wickets from 26 matches – Thisara Perera has been the most successful bowler for Sri Lanka since 2018 and a lot of hopes will pinned on the all-rounder. He is well known for taking crucial wickets and with his accuracy, he can even choke the opposition in the middle overs. On the other hand, Ross Taylor is probably the biggest name in the New Zealand middle order and considering his destructive strokeplay, it can safely be said that a lot will depend on the form of the right-hander.

Suranga Lakmal vs Martin Guptill

Martin Guptill, ranked 10th in the world, became a household name during the last World Cup when he slammed an unbeaten 237 against West Indies and over time, he has become a mainstay in the Kiwi batting line-up. However, Sri Lanka will be banking on the pace of Suranga Lakmal to counter the threat presented by the New Zealand opener. Lakmal can make good use of the conditions and considering his pace, he can turn out to be a tricky customer for Guptill and the other New Zealand batsmen.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: May 31, 2019 22:41 IST

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