Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 10 January 2016





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Red alert for Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is in danger of losing the top slot in the World T20 rankings at today’s last match against New Zealand in Auckland after going down in the first match on Thursday.

Only a win in today’s match can keep Sri Lanka in the top position of the rankings which for the first time the team is under extreme pressure to retain the status with the World Cup looming in the horizon.

Nuwan Kulasekara looks up into the heavens in the lost first T20 match against New Zealand at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui. - AFP PHOTO

Sri Lanka with 125 points at the top leads eighth-ranked New Zealand (108) by 17 points, but a second defeat today could mean that the team drops to third position behind the West Indies and Australia.

In contrast, if New Zealand wins today the team will rise to seventh position on 114 points and will reduce the gap with Sri Lanka to just four points. The last time New Zealand played Sri Lanka was in the ICC World Twenty20 in 2014, when it lost by a big margin.

There is plenty to play for as both sides head into the final phase of their preparations for the ICC World Twenty20 in India from March 8 to April 3.

But with a lot of T20I cricket to be played in the lead up to the ICC World T-20, changes are expected in the Championship table.

Meanwhile, in the absence of Brendon McCullum, an in-form Kane Williamson will lead New Zealand for today’s decider against Sri Lanka who have lost the Test series 2-0 and the ODI series 3-1.

Martin Guptill, who was the star of the ODI series, will start in 10th position in the batting ranks and no doubt will have a crucial role to play for his side. For Sri Lanka, a lot will depend on the experienced shoulders of Tillakaratne Dilshan.

The 39-year-old is ranked at an impressive ninth and will be the guiding force for the side in the absence of regular captain Lasith Malinga who has been ruled out due to injury.

Aaron Finch of Australia, India’s Virat Kohli and Alex Hales of England occupy the top three slots in the batsmen rankings.

A look at the ICC T20I Bowler Rankings shows Sri Lanka bowler Sachithra Senanayake as the highest-ranked bowler from either side in number-three while Nuwan Kulasekara is the other bowler inside the top best occupying the 10th position.

For New Zealand, Mitchell McClenaghan is one to watch out for with the left-arm medium fast bowler ranked 12th, a career-best position for him, along with Adam Milne.


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