Kiwis, Sri Lanka shake and wait
With Australia, India and Kenya already guaranteed a place in the semi-finals, New Zealand and Sri Lanka face a nervous two days before they learn their fate.
With Australia, India and Kenya already guaranteed a place in the semi-finals of the World Cup, New Zealand and Sri Lanka face a nervous two days before they learn their fate.
The Kiwis, with eight points in the Super Six table, can guarantee their place in the last four and a match-up against the world champions Australia, if they defeat India at Centurion on Friday.
But if they slip-up, then Sanath Jayasuriya's Sri Lanka, the 1996 winners, can secure a place by defeating already eliminated Zimbabwe in East London on Saturday.
Kiwi skipper Stephen Fleming, in an effort to gain a psychological edge, has already tried to unsettle India by reminding them of the demoralising series of defeats they suffered three months ago.
Sourav Ganguly's men were thrashed 2-0 in the Tests and 5-2 in the one-dayers on the tour of New Zealand in December and January, but India have looked a different team here winning seven of their eight World Cup matches so far.
"They'll be confident but sometimes that can be a weakness. Hopefully we can open up some of the wounds we opened in New Zealand," Fleming said.
His Indian counterpart, Sourav Ganguly, however, refused to worry about the past.
"History does not interest me, that's over, it's behind us," he said. "This is the World Cup stage. It can't get bigger than this."
India's New Zealand coach John Wright continued the mind games, saying Kiwi pace bowling sensation Shane Bond will not pose any problems for Sachin Tendulkar.
"Sachin can take care of anything," Wright said.
Tendulkar, one-day cricket's leading batsman, has aggregated a record 571 runs in this tournament, while Bond scared the living daylights out of the Australians on Tuesday with a fiery burst of 6-23 at Port Elizabeth.
Sri Lanka coach Dav Whatmore knows that should the Kiwis win on Friday, then the result of his team's match with Zimbabwe will be academic.
However, he has already told them that they only have themselves to blame should they suffer a Super Six knockout.
"It is difficult to have sympathy for the boys when they play like that," Whatmore thundered after Sri Lanka crashed to a humiliating 183-run defeat by India at the Wanderers on Monday.
"It's a problem of our own making. The boys got themselves into this situation and now they must get themselves out of it."
Sri Lanka were completely outplayed on Monday as the fired-up Indians posted 292-6 after being surprisingly asked to bat and then shot out their rivals for 109 in just 23 overs.
"We were not on the same park," Whatmore said. "We thought we had a little bit of fight in the previous game against Australia which I was hoping was going to rebound into this game.
"But boy, I was pretty wrong."
Meanwhile, Kenya were still celebrating on Thursday following their win over Zimbabwe which gave them the honour of being the first non-Test playing nation to reach the last four of the World Cup.
"There have been plenty of critics saying Kenya should not be here. But we played to the best of our ability and we won," said captain Steve Tikolo.