Trans-Tasman rivalry likely to be affected by rain

The World Twenty20 enounter between two strong teams in New Zealand and Australia, a crucial group match for the teams, is likely to be interrupted by rain, as Dharamsala has been experiencing frequent rainfall.

Rains were frequent interruption in Dharamsala in the opening round of the ICC World Twenty20.   -  AP

A wet Dharamshala greeted the teams and the fans ahead of the Australia-New Zealand World Twenty20 encounter at the HPCA Stadium here. A crucial match, no doubt, but only if it happens. Snow and rain in the distance cast a gloomy spell on the venue on the eve of the match and those associated with the event remained concerned with the inclement weather.

> Ross Taylor, Steve Smith indicate spin can be a big factor in Dharamsala encounter

It would be a travesty if the match degenerates into a reduced-overs affair – a minimum of five – given the status of the two teams, the exciting New Zealand the ever-resilient Australia. Their trans-Tasman rival, healthy and yet fierce, stands transported to this beautiful hilly town, nestling in the footsteps of the spiritual influence of the Dalai Lama.

Some of the Aussies and Kiwis have played here in the past and experienced the joy of competing in the backdrop of the Himalayas. But the task in front confronts their ability to raise their game when the challenge becomes humongous. A win here would ease the passage in a group where India and Pakistan loom large with their well-known credentials when playing in the sub-continent. Afghanistan too lurks in the shadow with the ability to sink the best team.

It might well turn into a contest of robust play if rain plays havoc with the schedule of the match. Notwithstanding the hard work that the ground-staff is known to put in here the fact remains that weather controls the fate of the match. A five-over battle would mean swinging of bats essentially. Hit the longest and strongest is the normal mantra in this format but a reduced-over match entails nothing but cross-batted mayhem from the first ball.

Big Hitters

The teams have some big hitters. Shane Watson, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner can produce spectator-scattering strokes even against good deliveries. So can some of the New Zealanders like Corey Anderson, Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, who can tear into the attack with ferocity.

A full game at this stage looks improbable and that would be sad for the cricket lovers here, not to speak of the players. Two classy teams of world cricket gauging each other in a curtailed scenario is what this cursed venue is likely to experience. The shifting of the India-Pakistan match had left the home fans despondent. And now this! Only the die-hard would brave his way to the stadium tomorrow. If not, the cricket the spectator can take solace soaking in the scenic backdrop.

The teams:

Australia: Steve Smith (Capt), David Warner, Shane Watson, Ashton Agar, Aaron Finch, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner, Nathan Coulter-Nile, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khwaja, Peter Nevill, Andrew Tye and Adam Zampa.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (Capt), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Grant Eliott, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Ross Taylor, Nathan McCullum, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi and Mitchell Santner.

Match starts at 7.30 p.m.

Pitch: The pitch at the HPCA normally offers bounce and carry but this one would be slow in nature. The spinners obviously come into the picture with an enhanced role and both teams are well-versed with the demands.

Head to head: Australia (4) New Zealand (1).

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