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Monday, March 28, 2011

World Cup 2011 - SL favorites to repeat win over NZ

177-154 says Castrol Index in favor of Sri Lanka against New Zealand for the first semi-final in the 2011 World Cup. The advantage goes much more than what the numbers say. The teams have faced each other in the League stage and Sri Lanka won the match convincingly. The spinners have spun webs around the batsmen of Black Caps so much that the match result looks decided already.

Once again, Muralitharan is doubtful for tomorrow's match and with confidence on his other spinners, Sangakkara will probably not risk him tomorrow. Herath and Mendis, along with Dilshan, will more than a handful for the NZ batsmen. The team composition contained Malinga and Matthews as the only non-spinners against England - there is no reason why this strategy should change against New Zealand. The opening batsmen have showed that if they settle down, they can notch up large partnerships at the top. Their success has ensured that the fragile middle order is not exposed. Sangakkara and Jayawardene were not given any match practice in the last game - they must be itching to contribute heavily.

The only Protean who was happy when they choked once again was Alan Donald, currently bowling coach of New Zealand. He has teamed up very well with John Wright to bring NZ to the stage that they are in. NZ was the best planned team in the entire tournament, having visited the host countries in the last few months. Though the results were not favorable to them, the experience is handy in the World Cup. They have also gone with three spinners along with Southee and Oram. Ross Taylor, McCullum and Scott Styris will be expected to lead the front on the batting side - playing in a test-like mode before going into the T20-mode in the slog overs. If they can get going, the strength of the Lankans (spin) can become their enemy very soon.

The Lankans start as overwhelming favorites for the match but one cannot rule out the eternal braids-maid of World Cup. Over-confidence is one aspect the Lankans will do well to avoid.  
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