This is the first match of the opening day of the World Cup 2015. Sri Lanka takes on co-hosts New Zealand on February 14 at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch. Cricket-wise, both these teams are at the diametrically opposite ends of the cricket planet. Cricket sun sets in New Zealand when it rises in Sri Lanka. New Zealand excels in windy conditions and bouncy pitches, while Sri Lanka is at its mightiest in humid conditions and low-bounce pitches.
Here is our exclusive preview of ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Match #1 in Pool A between New Zealand and Sri Lanka at Cricket.com.pk
They meet in Kiwis’ own backyard. You know who has the advantage. The results of the latest warm up matches of these teams perhaps sum up the situation nicely. New Zealand mauled none other than South Africa by 134 runs; while Sri Lanka lost to Zimbabwe, of all teams, by seven wickets.
Clash of two teams in the same boat
There is something common for New Zealand and Sri Lanka too. They have always remained on the fringes of cricket’s higher echelons. Their teams always give the impression that they are punching above their weight.
This is perhaps due to the presence of some mighty teams in the neighbourhood. Sri Lanka and New Zealand do not boast of tigerish fast bowlers or batting gods. Still, they have a better record in the world cups than some of the other, more fancied teams.
New Zealand has reached the semi finals in six world cups. Sri Lanka has won the trophy once and was the runners up in the last two world cups. They reached the semi finals in 2003 as well.
People often say statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is exciting, but what they hide is vital. But the statistics about the world cup performance of Sri Lanka and New Zealand seem to be covered in purdah. Nobody seems to notice the outstanding world cup record of these teams.
Head to head record
This will be the 90th match between these sides. New Zealand has won 41 matches, and Sri Lanka has won 40. One match ended in tie.
In world cups, they have crossed paths on eight occasions. New Zealand won the first three matches, while Sri Lanka emerged victorious in the last five. You may have heard a lot about India’s five-match winning streak against Pakistan in world cups. Sri Lanka is on a similar five-match winning spree against New Zealand.
Perhaps what matter most are the results of the matches of played between these teams in New Zealand. Sri Lankan fans, it is not as bad as you think. In 33 matches, New Zealand has won 21 matches, while Sri Lanka has managed 11 wins.
Players – New Zealand
New Zealand is fielding its best ever World Cup squad. Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe were there in previous world cup squads. But this team stands head and shoulders above all the previous squads. There is tough competition for almost all positions.
Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson lead the batting front. Their bowling is in the safe hands of Trent Boult, Adam Milne Tim Southee and the irrepressible Daniel Vettori. They bat deep and field like panthers.
Players – Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, in the true subcontinent tradition, still relies on a handful of individuals. Kumar Sangakkara, Angelo Mathews and Mahela Jayawardene will have to get the runs. And Lasith Malinga, who has just come back from an injury, will have to take wickets. The others are supporting cast. But they do have a handy supporting cast. It has always been the case with Sri Lankan cricket.
None of the teams have any injury scares. There will be full strong squad from either side.
The result of the match seems to be set in stone: New Zealand to win comfortably. While cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties, it will still be a huge upset if Sri Lanka wins this fixture.