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The Preview by Sidharth Monga
September 30, 2012
Match factsOctober 1, 2012
Big PictureNew Zealand players may have had a gastro problem or three, but surely they and West Indies have received the best of Sri Lankan hospitality? For, on Monday, they'll hope like hell that the hosts beat England.
New Zealand have no points so far, and their only entry point is if they beat West Indies and England lose too, to force a three-way tie at two points. If that happens, New Zealand will stand a good chance of making it to the semi-finals: their net run-rate of -0.268 is already better than West Indies' -0.621, and not too worse than England's -0.115. If it all goes to plan for New Zealand, their own net run-rate will improve, and England's will take a beating, bridging that gap.
Theoretically West Indies can be a part of a three-way tie even if they lose, but their poor net run-rate after the thrashing from Sri Lanka means it does them no good. In theory, West Indies too will have two avenues if they beat New Zealand: an England defeat later will give them a clear passage, while it will be a three-way tie with England and Sri Lanka should England win. Again, though, West Indies' net run-rate is likely to keep them third-best should the hosts lose.
So, for both the sides, the endeavour will be to win without worrying too much about the net run-rate and hope Sri Lanka keep up their good form later in the day. However, if only the second match is rained out, it will be bad news for New Zealand and good for West Indies. Neither of them can afford a whole washed-out day. If only the first game is washed out, New Zealand go out, and West Indies will again hope for a Sri Lanka win.
Form guideNew Zealand LLLWW (completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out forRoss Taylor finds himself under pressure not just for his lack of runs, but also his tinkering of the batting order. Monday will provide him one last chance of not only redeeming himself in this tournament, but to get a measure of retribution after a highly disappointing tour of the Caribbean earlier this year.
Darren Sammy hasn't exactly endeared himself to the West Indies fans with his selections either. At the heart of West Indies' problems has been a glut of bits-and-pieces allrounders, and not enough specialist bowlers. That was one of the reasons they lost after making 191 against Australia. It didn't help that even those three specialist bowlers against Sri Lanka didn't include Samuel Badree, who helped set up the win against England with four overs for just 20 runs. Sammy's captaincy, and his place in the side, are under scrutiny at best of times. Only a qualification to the semi-finals will be able to silence those voices, that too temporarily.
Team newsNew Zealand will be hoping for a return to wellness for Jacob Oram, in whose absence Doug Bracewell played against England, and played little part in the match while the contest was alive. Oram spent whole of Saturday unwell and throwing up throughout the day, and New Zealand are hoping it's a "24-hour thing". It's unlikely New Zealand will look at any other changes.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Rob Nicol, 3 Brendon McCullum (wk), 4 Ross Taylor (capt), 5 James Franklin, 6 Kane Williamson, 7 Jacob Oram/Doug Bracewell, 8 Daniel Vettori, 9 Nathan McCullum, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Kyle Mills.
For West Indies, Badree should come back, not least because New Zealand are not the best players of spin. The question is, will he replace a specialist bowler or one of the many allrounders?
West Indies (probable) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Johnson Charles, 3 Marlon Samuels, 4 Dwayne Bravo, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Darren Sammy (capt), 7 Andre Russell/Fidel Edwards, 8 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Samuel Badree.
Pitch and conditionsOn Saturday, Pallekele finally showed signs of assistance to spin, with a drier track. The rain has stayed away so far, and hopefully it will for one more day.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"I'd rather see Brendon McCullum at the top. I don't think he is quite assured of how he wants to play the game coming in at No. 3, because if New Zealand lose a wicket, he has to play a slightly different game. Perhaps get Ross Taylor in at No. 3, and give him more time to bat."
"It's a must-win for us now. The good thing for us is that we are playing New Zealand. We just played them in the Caribbean, we have a pretty good idea of what this side is made up of."
Darren Sammy banks on familiarity
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Sidharth Monga
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