Sri Lanka vs India and Australia vs New Zealand promise to be exciting
With press interactions and other commitments taking up most of their time in Sri Lanka so far, not all the teams participating at the ICC World Twenty20 have had a chance to get acclimatised or put finishing touches to their plans. On Thursday (September 13), Ireland played Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka played West Indies, but five more teams – including two of the big guns – will get a feel of the conditions when they play their first warm-up games, all starting at 9.30am local time, in different venues across Colombo on Saturday (September 15).
Australia takes on New Zealand at the Nondescripts Cricket Club ground; India plays Sri Lanka, in what would be the Lankans’ second practice game, at the P Sara Oval; Zimbabwe plays their second warm-up game, this time against Bangladesh, at the Colts Cricket Club Ground, in the three games pitting international sides against each other. The fourth warm-up game of the day features Afghanistan, who will play a Sri Lanka A team at the Moors Sports Club ground.
Australia is currently ranked a lowly ninth in the Reliance ICC Twenty20 rankings, four places below New Zealand. Australia’s latest Twenty20 International outing didn’t go too well either, as it lost 1-2 to Pakistan in Dubai. But the team will take heart from its performance in the last of those encounters, as it crushed Pakistan by 94 runs. New Zealand, on the other hand, has had a poor last few months in international cricket, but won the only T20I against India, in India last week.
The second match featuring big teams – Sri Lanka and India – should be riveting. Sri Lanka is always formidable at home, and beat West Indies, one of the favourites for the tournament, by nine wickets in the warm-up game between the two sides on Thursday. That would give the hosts confidence, especially after it lost the One-Day International series 1-4 and the only T20I when India toured in July-August this year. India, on the other hand, will be confident despite the one-run loss to New Zealand last week with a more or less stable look to its squad and the high of Yuvraj Singh’s comeback still very palpable.
Zimbabwe appeared poor when it took on Ireland on Thursday, going down by 54 runs. Not much worked for Zimbabwe except the batting of Hamilton Masakadza, who scored 44 from 27 balls. And Bangladesh, on a bit of a high since reaching the final of the Asia Cup earlier this year, would back itself to pull off a dominant performance. Bangladesh has a number of good spinners in its side and the general feeling is that it could be one of the teams to watch out for at ICC World T20 2012.
The Sri Lanka A squad could provide Afghanistan with a good workout too. At home, Sri Lankan players are a notch above what they are elsewhere, and even their second rung of players could be a handful for the newcomers to international cricket – Afghanistan. The Afghans have exuded confidence during their media interactions so far, but whether they are good enough for this level or not remains to be seen. The game against Sri Lanka A, albeit a practice tie, could give everyone a decent idea.