Who: New Zealand vs Sri Lanka
When: Thursday, November 9, 2023, 2pm (08:30 GMT)
Where: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru, India
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson says his team will “focus on cricket” when they face a potentially make-or-break ICC Cricket World Cup clash with Sri Lanka, shrugging off fears that rain may return to wash away their semifinal chances at Bengaluru’s M Chinnaswamy Stage.
Williamson’s team lost a rain-hit match at the same venue last weekend against Pakistan despite posting a mammoth 401.
The defeat was a fourth successive loss for the Kiwis, who had won their opening four games.
New Zealand, runners-up in the last two editions of the World Cup, are fourth in the table and need a win on Thursday to push their bid to secure a semifinal spot.
A washout could open the door for either Pakistan or Afghanistan to leapfrog them and grab the last remaining place in the final four. Both teams have the same number of points as New Zealand but are behind on net run rate.
“There’s lots of things that we can’t control, and the weather is one of those,” Williamson told reporters on the eve of the game against 1996 champions Sri Lanka.
“At the end of the day, our focus will be on the cricket that we want to play and trying to put all our focus and energy into that.”
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka will be fighting to maintain their current position at the very least to be among the top eight teams that will qualify for the ICC Champions Trophy in 2025.
Sri Lanka were embroiled in a controversy in their last match against Bangladesh on Monday when Angelo Mathews became the first cricketer to be dismissed “timed out” in an international match.
The 1996 champions lost the match by three wickets and are eighth on the points table.
All eyes will be on the skies in Bengaluru as rain is expected for at least two hours during the match. The Chinnaswamy Stadium is known to be among the better-equipped venues to deal with rainfall, but if the downpour doesn’t stop, it is unlikely that the match will be completed.
Head to head
Both teams have met in the ICC Cricket World Cup on 11 occasions, and Sri Lanka hold a slight edge with six wins compared to their opponents’ five.
Both teams have suffered a series of poor results, but Sri Lanka have had a particularly poor run at the tournament with six losses in their eight games so far.
New Zealand: LLLLW
Sri Lanka: LLLWW
New Zealand team news
Lockie Ferguson, who has claimed eight wickets in five matches, missed the previous two games with an Achilles tendon injury. He has now recovered and will be available for selection. Williamson said Ferguson “balances out our attack nicely” but did not reveal the team for the all-important match.
Fast bowler Matt Henry was ruled out of the rest of the tournament last week with a torn hamstring, and Kyle Jamieson has taken his place in the squad.
Predicted XI: Devon Conway, Rachin Ravindra, Williamson (captain), Daryl Mitchell, Mark Chapman, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tom Latham, Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult
Sri Lanka team news
Sri Lanka have lost a number of players to injury during the tournament, including their captain Dasun Shanaka, but are expected to have all the players from the previous match available for selection.
Predicted XI: Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis (captain), Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Maheesh Theekshana, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha, Dilshan Madushanka