Compared to the hard to read West Indies versus Pakistan match, this one is easier to figure out. New Zealand have been really good the last few years, and even beat mighty India easily in their first warm-up match – only to lose to West Indies – but that’s hard to predict. Sri Lanka are less difficult to predict. They just can’t buy a win. Sri Lanka’s preparation was all over the place, their management is all over the place, and the only thing they’ve done of note in the past year is when they were caught ball tampering, their management refused to admit to it, and they overall were made to look worse than Australia. Few people cared, though, as Sri Lanka were never going to win anyway.
Five Fearless Predictions
(1) New Zealand will win
I just thought I’d get this one out of the way early, as this is a pretty easy prediction to make. It’s possible, in a two-team game, for the other team to get there, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which that could occur.
(2) It won’t be close
It could be 350 versus 100, or 150 and then get the runs with 2 wickets down in 35 overs, or that kind of thing. Sri Lanka’s bowling is pretty woeful, so high scores are possible, but in an opening match 500 might be beyond New Zealand, but 400 might be possible. It all depends on how confident they are – and if they end up batting first. Fans will want New Zealand to bat first.
(3) Kane Williamson will star
The guy is in phenomenal form, a form that has lasted for close to 10 years now. It’s just been so consistent, every match, in every format, with few lapses. Ross Taylor has joined him a bit lately, but it’s still the Kane Williamson show.
(4) Trent Boult will dominate
While he lost some form since the last World Cup, where he was the joint winner of the player of the tournament award with Mitchell Starc, he showed in the practice matches that he is right back up there, and I am picking him to be the leading wicket taker.
(5) Sri Lanka will threaten to do something but then won’t
There will be periods where the commentators get excited, as they go 20 overs without losing a wicket, hit a 6 or two, get 20 runs off an over, take an important wicket, or 2 in a row, or do something worth celebrating, but it just won’t last. Thisara Perera seems the man most likely, but there are some batsmen who could do something as well. de Silva, Karunaratne, Chandimal. But it’s just not enough.