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ICC World Cup 2019 | Upbeat New Zealand Aim to Start Campaign On a High Against Sri Lanka

ICC World Cup 2019 | Upbeat New Zealand Aim to Start Campaign On a High Against Sri Lanka

Finals in 2015 and semifinals in 1992 and 1999 prove that Kiwis are never to be taken lightly, when it comes to ICC event.

When it comes to the World Cup, New Zealand have always been the quiet performers. Whether it’s 1992, 1999 or 2015, very few people fancied the Black Caps’ chances in the tournament.

Finals in 2015 and semifinals in 1992 and 1999 prove that Kiwis are never to be taken lightly, when it comes to ICC event — remember 2000 Champions Trophy win over India in Kenya. The Black Caps will open their 2019 campaign with what is poised to be a relatively easy outing against Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Saturday.

The Lankans are far from the side which won the title in 1996 and reached the final in 2007 and 2011. Corruption scandals back home, constant chopping and changing of personnel and inconsistent performances have dropped them down to 9th place in the ICC ranking.

There are flashes of brilliance of course — Kusal Perera’s brilliant 153 to script a fantastic chase in Durban or Kusal Mendis-Angelo Mathews defiance against New Zealand in Wellington Test — but most of them have been in the five-day format.

Under a new skipper, Dimuth Karunaratne — who will be playing in just his second ODI after the 2015 World Cup — the Lankans will face a huge challenge to lift themselves on this stage.

New Zealand

The Kiwis, on the other hand, started off their preparation for World Cup with an impressive win over India in the first warm-up game where the bowlers called the shots but West Indies clobbered them for 421 in the next warm-up.

Cardiff should provide the Kiwi pace bowlers Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Lockie Ferguson some assistance but as India showed against Bangladesh that it can be a batsmen’s paradise as well. The 2015 World Cup runners-up will bank on Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor to hit their straps early against a Lankan attack featuring Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal.

“They (SL) are trying to bring a bit more stability into the group. You still have some exciting talent — Angelo Mathews, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis. There are matchwinners in that unit,” former Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene
said before the start of the World Cup.

“Four or five wins can get you a semi-final berth and Sri Lanka would be looking at that option and try and execute each game at a time. I still feel they have got a very good chance,” he added.

Last five ODIs

New Zealand: WLWWW

After losing the ODI series to India 4-1, the Kiwis bounced back to thrash Bangladesh 3-0 at home. They won one and lost one of the two warm-up games before the World Cup.

Sri Lanka: LLLNRW

The Lankans lost the ODI series to South Africa away from home 5-0 and played a couple of ODIs in Scotland before coming to England. They lost both of their warm-up games against South Africa and Australia comprehensively.

Players to watch out for

taylor williamson

Ross Taylor: The former Kiwi skipper has been a different batsman since his eye operation. Last year Taylor averaged over 90 in the 11 ODIs and this year has been no different with 593 runs at an average of 74.12 at a strike-rate of over 94. He carried on this form in the game against India in the warm-up with another impressive half-century.

Lasith Malinga: The ODI captaincy was taken away from him just before the World Cup but the veteran Lankan paceman is showing no signs of slowing down. After shuttling between India and Sri Lanka during IPL-12, Malinga came up with the most important delivery of the tournament — the final ball for Mumbai Indians to set up the win for his franchise. Malinga, who has 322 wickets from 218 ODIs, will be keen for one last burst in possibly his final World Cup.

Team News/Availability:

New Zealand: First-choice wicketkeeper Tom Latham has been on the sidelines due to a cracked finger. Tom Blundell is expected to make his ODI debut in the World Cup and warmed up with a century against West Indies.

Sri Lanka: They don’t have any injury concerns. Young leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay looked far from being impressive and experienced Jeevan Mendis could be tried out in his place.


New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Tom Blundell (wk), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (wk), Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.

Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Suranga Lakmal, Isuru Udana, Lasith Malinga, Kusal Mendis (wk), Kusal Perera (wk), Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Jeffrey Vandersay, Milinda Siriwardana, Avishka Fernando, Dhananjaya de Silva.