New Zealand and Sri Lanka will square up at the Wanderers today knowing that a batting failure at this crucial juncture could mean curtains to their campaign. England, Sri Lanka and South Africa have two points each in Pool B while New Zealand are pointless having been outplayed by South Africa in a five-wicket win on Thursday. Sri Lanka have played one more game but came up with two contrasting displays. Having piled up a huge total of 319 runs in their first game against South Africa, they were 17 for four and managed 212 overall against England on Friday.
Though the wicket was not ideal for batting, the Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara admitted the batsmen should have shown better application. "We played well, but need to be flexible. This wasn't a typical one-day track, but we had to build a good score," the captain said. New Zealand failed to get any decent partnerships going in their first game. Their woes were compounded when the established all-rounder Jacob Oram damaged his hamstring and had to be sent home. James Franklin will replace him.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board removed a one-day international (ODI) game from a proposed series of four ODIs and two Twenty20 matches to be held in the UAE and revised the dates. According to the new schedule, Pakistan will "host" three ODIs and the two T20 games at the neutral venues of Abu Dhabi of Dubai respectively. After New Zealand objected to playing in Pakistan for security reasons, the board had protracted discussions over money-sharing arrangements with Dubai Sports City before sending the itinerary to the Cricket New Zealand for approval.
Originally planned to be held in the last week of October, the New Zealand board demanded for a gap of at least two days between matches in the series. The series begins at the Zayed Stadium in the capital with the three ODIs on November 3, 6 and 9 while the two T20 games will be played on November 12 and 13. Both teams will then travel to New Zealand for three Test matches. * With agencies