New Zealand takes on Sri Lanka in a must-win ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 clash in Bengaluru on Thursday.
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.
With Sri Lanka charged up after a controversy-riddled match against Bangladesh, New Zealand will have its task cut out. But the big question remains - will Lockie Ferguson take his place in the New Zealand XI?
The Kiwis inducted Ish Sodhi into the XI, potentially responding to dryness in the wicket in their fixture against Pakistan a few days ago. NZ loss that match by 21 runs (Duckworth and Lewis Method). Ferguson’s express pace might come in handy for NZ at a time when the likes of Trent Boult and Tim Southee are struggling to find early breakthroughs.
“Yeah, I mean he (Ferguson) balances out our attack nicely and made some really valuable contributions in the tournament so far and brings a bit of experience as well. So, naturally comes in and bowls with that high pace and it complements our new ball bowlers. So, yeah, we’ll have to have a look at the surface and decide on our balance,” skipper Kane Williamson said before the game.
Kyle Jamieson, who was flown into India as the injured Matt Henry’s replacement, is another option for the Black Caps. It was too soon to rope him into the playing XI for the Pakistan game which was scheduled a day after the towering bowler landed in Bengaluru. However, the former Royal Challengers Bangalore bowler has had a few days to acclimatise to conditions in the Garden City of India and might also provide captain Williamson with another pace option to consider against an inconsistent Sri Lankan outfit.
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