With Australia having sealed a semifinal spot with an epic win on Tuesday night, the race is on to grab the fourth and last remaining berth.
New Zealand will emerge as the frontrunner to win this sprint, if the side can post a victory over Sri Lanka at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Wednesday. This will take the Kiwis two points clear of the chasing pack - Pakistan and Afghanistan. Crucially, New Zealand holds the advantage with the best net run rate among the three teams.
New Zealand needs to shake off a recent slump of four consecutive defeats. The most recent slip came at this venue at the hands of Pakistan. New Zealand was comfortably placed after scoring 401 for six, but a fine century from Fakhar Zaman and incessant rain ruined the party. Skipper Kane Williamson must now wonder what constitutes a par score in this notoriously high-scoring ground.
Rain is once again predicted to arrive on Thursday, which could spell disaster for New Zealand. If the match is abandoned without a result, the doors will be left wide open for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The return of fast bowler Lockie Ferguson, out for the last two outings with an injury, strengthens New Zealand’s attack. Ferguson could take the place of leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, who went for 44 runs in his four overs against Pakistan.
The stage is perfectly set for Rachin Ravindra, with roots in this city, to shine. Ravindra, who scored a century here on Saturday, will go to the top of the tournament run-scorer list with one more good showing.
Sri Lanka, out of the reckoning, plays for pride. The defeat to Bangladesh a few days ago effectively ended hopes of progressing to the next stage. To make matters worse, the ignominious ‘timed out’ dismissal of Angelo Mathews left a sour taste in the camp.
To sign off with a win will bring some positives to an otherwise poor Lankan campaign.
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