New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Group C, ICC World Twenty20 September 14, 2007

Sri Lanka may have the slight edge



Unknown commodity: Jehan Mubarak provided a glimpse of what he could do when he smashed 46 off 13 deliveries against Kenya © Getty Images

Both New Zealand and Sri Lanka come into this match at the back of resounding wins over minnows Kenya. However, Sri Lanka will surely start favourites purely on the basis that their victory, a 172-run drubbing, was a tad more emphatic than the nine-wicket victory that New Zealand enjoyed.

The last time these two met, New Zealand came out with a five-wicket win chasing a mere 115. A classic bat-versus-ball extravaganza is promised in either innings with the likes of Sanath Jayasuriya and Mahela Jayawardene against Shane Bond and Mark Gillespie and as the teams change over, it will be Lou Vincent, Brendon McCullum and Jacob Oram against Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga.

Bat play: Jayasuriya (88 off 44) and Jayawardene (65 off 27) helped Sri Lanka post a world-record 260 against Kenya. Eleven sixes were hit as the Kenyans were simply overwhelmed by the masters of power-hitting. With Kumar Sangakkara and Jehan Mubarak waiting to cash in as well, Sri Lanka might well bat out the opposition in the first half if they win the toss.

New Zealand were unable to show off their prowess with the bat thanks mainly to their bowlers who restricted Kenya to 73. However, brief cameos from Vincent and Peter Fulton were enough to suggest presence of fire-power at the top. With the likes of Scott Styris and Jacob Oram coming in late in the day, New Zealand can get devastating with the bat.

Wrecking ball: Bond and Gillespie showed what they are capable of with the new ball, especially the latter who recorded best figures by a bowler in Twenty20 internationals. New Zealand not only have Chris Martin, Oram and Styris to come after, but also Daniel Vettori, their captain, who provides a strangle-hold option in the middle overs.

Sri Lanka will once again rely on Vaas, Dilhara Fernando and Malinga to provide the initial breakthroughs followed by the ever-effective left-armers of Jayasuriya and Tillakaratne Dilshan's off-breaks.

Keep your eye on: Jehan Mubarak who smashed 46 off only 13 deliveries with eight of them resulting in boundaries (five sixes and three fours). With a personal best of 94* in Twenty20s, who knows what a few more deliveries can lead to with him at the crease.

Shop talk "We played smart cricket," Jayawardene said after Sri Lanka's win against Kenya. "When Sanath starts like that we are bound to have a big total on the board. The others chipped in as well." While Jayawardene will be hoping for more of the same, Vettori will be look towards not only his bowlers to outsmart Sri Lanka, but also his batsmen to get enough batting practice for the Super Eights.

Pitching it right: The memories will still be fresh from an absorbing night of cricket between India and Pakistan but with intermittent showers, the pitch might have absorbed wet elements as well. Batting might not be the easiest. Dry weather, however, is predicted for Saturday but do take cover in the stands in case Jayasuriya gets going.

Teams
Sri Lanka (likely): Upul Tharanga, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Chamara Silva, Jehan Mubarak, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Gayan Wijekoon, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando

New Zealand (likely): Brendon McCullum(wk), Lou Vincent, Peter Fulton, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris, Jacob Oram, Crag McMillan, Daniel Vettori (capt), Shane Bond, Mark Gillespie, Chris Martin

Faras Ghani is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo