| Lasith Malinga during a training session |
Chittagong: With a semi-final spot at stake, Sri Lanka and New Zealand take on each other in a virtual knock-out match of Group 1 of the World T20, here, on Monday.
Sri Lanka and New Zealand are on four points each from three games and the winner of Monday’s Super 10 match at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium will decide which side will join South Africa in the semi-finals from Group 1.
South Africa have finished their Super 10 engagements and have qualified for the semi-finals with six points from four matches.
Sri Lanka came into the World T20 high on confidence after winning the Asia Cup and then they recorded two consecutive wins comfortably — against South Africa and minnows the Netherlands.
The win against the Netherlands was the shortest successful run chase ever in T20Is, as it was completed in just five overs after the Dutch scored just 39.
Sri Lanka, however, lost their next match against England by six wickets in a high-scoring match with their bowlers failing to stop Alex Hales from scoring 116 from just 64 balls.
The Lankans would look to return to winning ways against New Zealand on Monday and book a semi-final berth, but they will have to come up with an improved bowling display.
The Lankan bowlers were expensive in their loss against England and they cannot afford to do so against a New Zealand side, which have the likes of captain Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor and Corey Anderson.
As usual, much will be expected from Lasith Malinga. Though he didn’t get a wicket against England, he has been in pretty good form in this tournament. Nuwan Kulasekara got four wickets in the last match, but what will worry the Lankans more is that their spinners went wicketless against England.
While Ajantha Mendis was expensive, giving away 52 runs from his four overs, Sachithra Senanayake did slightly better conceding 30 from his four.
Batting hasn’t really been a headache for the Lankans with experienced hands like Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara being in pretty good nick. Tillekaratne Dilshan, too, got a half-century in the last match.
But Sri Lanka’s biggest setback on Monday could be captain Dinesh Chandimal’s absence. Chandimal will miss the match as he has been suspended for a game by the ICC following his team’s slow over-rate.
New Zealand won against England courtesy the Duckworth/Leiws method in a rain-shortened match, lost a tight match against South Africa and then thrashed the Netherlands. McCullum and Taylor have been in good touch while New Zealand also have a big-hitting all-rounder in Anderson who can win a match single-handedly.