Will New Zealand upset Sri Lankan apple-cart? Why not when they could do to formidable South African in quarters?
Honestly, no one is paying much attention to this edition of WC semis as everyone, at least in the sub-continent, emotionally attached to the ‘cracker’ second semis between two traditional rivals India and South Africa, at Mohali a day after the first semis at Colombo between Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
Nevertheless, it is equally important match, certainly for record books, for the winner of the match, who will qualify to play finals.
New Zealand, which was unlucky in the past to make it to finals even after entering semis for six times in the ICC World Cup, this time around looks determined to break that jinx. This was evident from their star batsman Ross Taylor’s statement. “The ‘underdogs’ tag suits us most.” What does it mean? It means a lot as he wanted to make it clear to their opponents that there are no way under pressure. They play their natural game and if they win they are happy and if they don’t any regrets.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka, which progressed well so far in the tourney, is a confident lot. Right from the beginning of this edition of World Cup, bookies rated Sri Lanka is one of the hot favorites for the WC final alongside of India, South Africa and Australia. Believe it or, none imagined that Pakistan and New Zealand will come this far. But, many analysts guess work gone for a six, as Pakistan and New Zealand surprised them with their stellar performances.
Having qualified for the semis, both the teams would not like to lose this opportunity to get further better. Undoubtedly, both the teams’ bench strengths are evenly balanced. Good allrounders in their ranks, the prediction over the match’s outcome becoming all the more difficult. Though, many a cricket buff would like to throw their weight behind Lanka, I for one, prefer to keep my fingers crossed. This simply because, I never anticipated South Africa to lose to New Zealand in the quarters! Like many, I was under the impression and really believed the genuine claims of South African skipper Smith that their entry into finals reserved after being unbeaten in their Group B league encounters.
Ironically, for South Africa this had been their tail as far as ICC World Cup is concern. Even in the past World Cups, South Africa held same record – winning all their league matches in their Group, but losing the crucial encounter!
Back to Sri Lanka-New Zealand encounter, well the former may have an edge for playing on home turf with crowd support. Never the less, its opponent, who will enter the ground without much pressure from any quarter, bound to put up better show and stun their opponents. Thus far, it is anyone’s game as far as I as a cricket analyst concerned. On a day whichever team performs well will win. That’s the yardstick, I prefer to apply. If New Zealand bowlers put up a disciplined show as they did against South Africa, then why not catch the Lankan Lions by its tail?
If that doesn’t happen, well Sri Lankan victory, come as no great surprise to cricket buffs.