In 2015 World Cup, New Zealand reached the finals under the leadership of Brendon McCullum and will be keen to go one step further this time around. They ensured all possible boxes got ticked before heading to the main tournament and despite a horrendous defeat in the hands of Windies in the warmup fixture, they look strong enough to be considered one of the favorites to enter the final four.
For Sri Lanka, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that they have nothing to lose. They haven’t managed to play collectively, and have tinkered with their leader a few times. As they head into this tournament and play against Kiwis in Cardiff, they should only eye one ball at a time.
If they can get some early breakthroughs and contain the likes of Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor and skipper Kane Williamson, they could be in contention. But the above-mentioned things are much easier said than done.
Henry Nicholls might get to open alongside the Martin Guptill after Colin Munro failed to get going in the warm-up fixtures. Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor have been a constant source of runs for them in the middle order and will continue to be so throughout the tournament. They might go in with two spinners and two quicks for this game, with James Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme being their 5th and 6th bowling options.
The unfortunate thing for Sri Lanka is there is no star presence in their batting lineup who reassures runs almost every game. Karunaratne and Thirimanne might open with Kusal Perera coming in the middle order. Unlike the Kiwis, they could play just one spinner in the lineup in Jeffrey Vandersay. They will go in with three speedsters in Isuru Udana, Malinga and Suranga Lakmal, with Perera and Dhananjaya de Silva being the fifth and sixth bowling options.
New Zealand (Predicted XI):
Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Blundell (wk), Colin de Grandhomme, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi.
Sri Lanka (Predicted XI):
Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera (wk), Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Jeffrey Vandersay
Who will win?
It wouldn't be wrong to say that New Zealand will start as favourites against Lankan Lions, purely because they have been able to prepare for the tournament better than the opposition. For Lankan, this tournament will only result into a phase of introspection.
Weather and Pitch
Conditions are expected to be sunny but it will make no difference to the nature of the pitch, which will be flat. Pacers are once again set to suffer.
Going into this game, Trent Boult is just three away from getting to 150 wickets in ODI cricket.
Stadium and timings
The match will be played at Spohia Gardens in Cardiff and the match will begin at 3:00 PM IST.