New Zealand hope for clear skies in Bangalore

In the last four games they ran out of steam and their fate hangs in the balance

By Anis Sajan

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New Zealand captain Kane Williamson bats during a practice session. — PTI
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson bats during a practice session. — PTI

Published: Wed 8 Nov 2023, 10:48 PM

New Zealand will be hoping for clear blue skies in Bangalore on Thursday. A rained out game is the last thing they want as they bid to become the fourth team to reach the semis by winning their ninth and final league match against Sri Lanka.

The Kiwis started the World Cup with a bang, with four wins on the trot and they appeared close to sealing a place in the last four stage of the tournament.

However, in the last four games they ran out of steam and their fate hangs in the balance.

The Kiwis find themselves in a position that they might not even qualify for the semifinals should rain play a spoil sport or if they lose to Sri Lanka.

Their downfall started with the loss to India and from that point they have not been able to win despite scoring 400 runs against Pakistan and 370 against Australia.

New Zealand were on a roll when they first beat defending champions England in the opening game with more than 14 overs to spare.

Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra were in destructive form scoring unbeaten hundreds. They carried on their good start, beating the Netherlands, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. but a freakish injury to Kane Williamson and lack of runs from Conway stalled their winning momentum.

New Zealand came agonisingly close to chasing down 388 against Australia but lost by five runs, then in the game in Pune the decision to bat second against South Africa backfired and they lost by a huge margin.

In their last game against Pakistan, despite scoring 400 runs when batting first, they came across their nemesis, Fakhar Zaman, who has scored four centuries in a row against them. They could not stop him again.

The present equation is simple. If the Kiwis win their last game against Sri Lanka, they are almost certain to qualify as their net run rate is good.

Only if Pakistan beat England by almost 130 runs, which looks improbable, will they be denied.

But the weather forecast for Thursday's game in Bangalore does not look good and they will hope that the rain stays away to give them a chance of beating Sri Lanka and qualifying for another World Cup semifinal.

On the positive side they have Williamson, who looked very good scoring 97 against Pakistan, back in the squad.

But can he get his side that win which has been missing in the last four games?

Only time, and the weather, will tell.

Today's match:

Sri Lanka vs New Zealand

Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore

12:30 pm

Teams:

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Kusal Perera, 3 Kusal Mendis (capt, wk) 4 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Dhananjaya de Silva, 8 Maheesh Theekshana, 9 Kasun Rajitha, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Dilshan Madushanka

New Zealand (probable): 1 Devon Conway, 2 Rachin Ravindra, 3 Kane Williamson (capt.), 4 Daryl Mitchell, 5 Tom Latham (wk), 6 Glenn Phillips, 7 Mark Chapman, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Ish Sodhi/Kyle Jamieson, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Tim Southee/Lockie Ferguson

Head-to-head:

Matches: 101

New Zealand wins: 51

Sri Lanka wins: 41

Tied: 1

No result: 8


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