ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features
Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 1st semi-final, World Cup 2011, Colombo
An awesome pair and the battle of flashiness
ESPNcricinfo looks at the key contests in the semi-final between Sri Lanka and New Zealand in Colombo
Firdose Moonda in colombo
March 28, 2011
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Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup
Tim Southee v Sri Lanka's openers
With over 757 runs in seven matches and four centuries between them, Sri Lanka's opening pair of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga is the most solid one of the tournament. Besides the obvious advantage of being a right and left-hand combination, the pair have dominated seam and spin with equal disdain. Of all the opening combinations that Tim Southee has had to bowl to, this will be the most challenging. He did get the better of both in the group match between the two teams, dismissing Dilshan with a short ball and running out Tharanga. He is also New Zealand's top wicket-taker in the tournament so far, and his ability to swing the ball sets up an interesting clash with the openers.
Fielding v fielding
Sri Lanka have been acknowledged as the best subcontinent fielding side in the competition, with their dedication resulting in spectacular catches. They've put in a special effort to stop singles in the ring and cut off any easy run flow. Now, they're up against a team whose fielding was the basis of their win in the quarter-final. Jacob Oram's catch that dismissed Jacques Kallis and the run-out which saw AB de Villiers depart were the two moments that turned the game in Mirpur in New Zealand's favour. New Zealand's fielders flung their bodies around, saving singles everywhere, to frustrate the South Africa batsmen. Sri Lanka should be prepared for the ball to hit a concrete wall and not a gap a lot of the time.
Lasith Malinga v Brendon McCullum
This could easily be called the battle of flashiness. One has a blonde mop and an unconventional action, while the other has a tattooed upper body and a wide selection of shots. One likes to bowl flashy, the other likes to bat flashy. The most intriguing part of their battle will be Malinga's yorker against McCullum's paddle. When McCullum got an international Twenty20 century against Australia in February 2010, he repeatedly paddled Shaun Tait's yorkers up and over fine leg, often for six.
Sri Lanka's middle order v Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum
The New Zealand spinners may not have as many variations as Sri Lanka's but they do have the same ability to take the game away from the opposition. Squeeze is the word they abide by, and in squeezing they get wickets; McCullum more so than Vettori, who has only two to his name this tournament but at an economy rate that a Test bowler would be proud of. Sri Lanka's middle order, from No. 5 onwards, hasn't had the best of tournaments so far, mostly because the openers haven't given them a chance to, but they're still the most fragile thing about the team. Angelo Mathews, Thilan Samaraweera and Chamara Silva will have to work hard for their runs against the two spinners, which could prove tricky considering how little time they have spent at the crease.
Muttiah Muralitharan v Ross Taylor
This is the resumption of a battle that the wily offspinner won when the teams first met in the group stages. Taylor was on a high, having scored a century against Pakistan and a 74 against Canada. He was off to another start in the match against Sri Lanka when Muralitharan came on. Taylor wasn't able to score a run in the first six balls he faced off Muralitharan and the seventh ball trapped him lbw. Taylor hasn't fired after that and may be looking to do it here, but he'll have Muralitharan standing in his way.
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1900 Birth of one of the most voracious run-getters in cricket history
1970 It seems improbable that a legspinner could take more than 400 Test wickets without turning the ball prodigiously, but Anil Kumble , who was born today, has done precisely that