The first semis between the co-host Sri Lanka and Cup-aspirants New Zealand at Premadasa stadium in Colombo, likely to produce good cricket as both the teams are evenly balanced – in bowling, batting and fielding.
Sri Lanka team, which won the glittering World Cup in 1996 defeating Australia by 7 wickets, but however, but lost to same Australians in 2007 by seven wickets, is undoubtedly a hot favorite. It is all set to recapture the Cup.
So far their journey to Semis impressive, though they failed to top their Group A table, as their crucial encounter with Australia was washed out due to un-seasonal rain. Otherwise, they won all their league encounters to occupy the second slot. They inflicted humiliating defeat on England winning their quarter final match without losing even a single wicket. Their 222 for no loss win, in fact, is new record in the World Cup so far. Lankans got one of the best world class openers – Upul Tharanga and Dilshan, besides skipper Sangakarra and Mahela Jayawardane. Its bowling strength lies in match-winning performers like Muthaiah Muralidharan, Ajantha Mendis. Their ground fielding can also destroy opponents’ game plans.
On the other hand, New Zealand, six time semi-finalists, who begin their campaign as underdogs, looks confident to storm into finals this time around. Their resounding 110-run victory over Pakistan in their group league match, reposed them needed confidence and faith in their batsmen as well bowlers. But, they are also equally well aware of Sri Lanka enjoying the home turf advantage. They look determined and buzzing with confidence after their comfortable quarter-final victory over hot favorites South Africa. Though they couldn’t set a big total for South Africa, but their bowlers managed to defend 222 to bowl Proteas out for 171 to register a 49-run win.
Will New Zealand play with the same enthusiasm as they exhibited against South Africa to upset Sri Lankans dream run to storm into finals and lift the Cup? My guess is as good as yours!