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.