NEW DELHI: New Zealand‘s once-dominant campaign in the World Cup has hit a disheartening flatline, and they are in dire need of a reboot as they face a must-win match against Sri Lanka. After an early run of success, the Kiwis are now struggling with only eight points and a precarious position, aware that a defeat or washout could end their journey in the tournament.
Currently in fourth place on the table, New Zealand faces stiff competition from Pakistan and Afghanistan, who also have eight points each.Pakistan and Afghanistan have the potential to reach 10 points with wins in their final league matches against England and South Africa, respectively. With that in mind, New Zealand has to secure a substantial victory to maintain their Net Run Rate advantage as well.
While the situation is not entirely favourable for New Zealand, a win in their upcoming match will keep them in the race for the semifinals, albeit temporarily.
The Kiwis’ campaign has faced challenges, with their batting showing resilience, but their bowling has lacked the required bite, especially during crucial moments. Despite amassing 400 runs against Pakistan at the same venue, their bowlers struggled to contain the opposition’s batsmen, particularly against Fakhar Zaman’s onslaught.
New Zealand’s bowlers, including seasoned campaigners like Trent Boult and Tim Southee, were seen operating without a clear Plan B. Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner has been a standout performer, but the team’s overreliance on Glenn Phillips’ part-time off-spin was exposed when Pakistan’s batsmen targeted him aggressively.
In particular, the Kiwi bowlers have struggled to exert pressure on the opposition during the middle and end overs. Rectifying this area of concern will be their top priority when they take on Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka, although not as powerful as Pakistan, can still pose a threat if New Zealand’s bowlers do not regroup swiftly. The Lankans have capable batsmen in Pathum Nissanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama. The Kiwis need to address their bowling issues to ensure success against Sri Lanka.
Injuries have also played a significant role in New Zealand’s challenges during this tournament. Key players such as captain Kane Williamson, James Neesham, Matt Henry, and Lockie Ferguson have been sidelined at various points, impacting the team’s consistency and performance.
Williamson’s absence in particular has been felt, as the Kiwis lost four consecutive matches during this period. His leadership, stability, and adaptability were sorely missed, leaving a void that other players struggled to fill. As they face Sri Lanka, Williamson will need to use his experience and motivational skills to inspire the team.
New Zealand is also hoping for a revival from opener Devon Conway, who made a massive hundred against England in the tournament opener but has failed to convert promising starts into significant scores.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka, despite some sporadic flashes of brilliance, has experienced a challenging campaign, largely due to injuries and squad changes. They have been one of the most affected teams in this regard. In addition to injuries, their frequent changes in personnel have hindered the team’s consistency.
For both teams, the upcoming match represents an opportunity to address their issues and potentially finish the tournament on a positive note. New Zealand’s quest for a World Cup reboot holds significant context, given their aspiration to secure a spot in the semifinals.
New Zealand: 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: 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.
Match starts at 2 PM.
(With inputs from PTI)

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By jaghit

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