NZ eye win over SL to keep hopes alive in WC

Bengaluru: New Zealand will need to get back to winning ways against Sri Lanka on Thursday at Chinnaswamy Stadium in order to keep their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup campaign on track.

Glenn Maxwell’s masterclass against Afghanistan has ensured that New Zealand stay in the No.4 spot in the Cricket World Cup standings, but the Black Caps will need to push on to give themselves the best possible chance at making the knockout stages of the event.

With Pakistan and Afghanistan breathing down their necks, only an emphatic victory against Sri Lanka in Bengaluru can give some relief to Kane Williamson & Co. While a loss wouldn’t rule them out yet, the Kiwis would then leave their fate solely to other results going their way.

In what has been a topsy-turvy tournament so far, New Zealand won four games on the trot before losing to India. The side hasn’t won a game since and would love to overturn that sequence against Sri Lanka.

A three-wicket loss to Bangladesh was the island nation’s sixth defeat for the tournament, a disappointing turn of events for a side playing in conditions that favour their strengths.

While the likes of Sadeera Samarawickrama, Pathum Nissanka, and Dilshan Madushanka have shined in their departments, many of the big names haven’t quite had the tournament they would have liked.

The side can change that with a spirited display in Bengaluru.

As expected, New Zealand’s star player returned to the set-up at the latter stages of the tournament. And Kane Williamson batted as if he’d never been away, hitting a confident 95 from 79 deliveries.

However, that wasn’t enough as Fakhar Zaman played a stunning knock for Pakistan.

Williamson will now have the double task of delivering with the bat and helping his side regroup after that vehement loss to Pakistan. As the leader of this group for the last several years, Williamson knows the strengths and weaknesses of his side well.

A shift in mindset is needed, and Williamson is the perfect man for the job.

With the impactful Dilshan Madushanka at the helm, Sri Lanka have had their moments with the new ball. Unfortunately, they’ve failed to replicate this initial pressure into later stages of the game.

The returns of their lead spinner, Maheesh Theekshana (five wickets at an average of 67.8) have been far from perfect.

Yet, Theekshana’s career figures and recent returns in tournaments like the Asia Cup show that the spinner has more to his armoury than has been witnessed in the ongoing World Cup.

If he’s able to strike at the right moments for the island nation, his side will surely have a greater say in the contest.


New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitch Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Will Young.

Sri Lanka Squad: Kusal Mendis (c), Kusal Perera, Pathum Nissanka, Dushmantha Chameera, Dimuth Karunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Maheesh Theekshana, Dunith Wellalage, Kasun Rajitha, Angelo Mathews, Dilshan Madushanka, Dushan Hemantha, Chamika Karunaratne.


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