Now that we’ve got that one relatively exciting match out of the way, where South Africa were Twitter favourites to beat England, but failed, ultimately rather abysmally, we are on to the one-sided contests, starting with lowly Sri Lanka facing the might of New Zealand. It sounds silly, when you consider that Sri Lanka have won a World Cup, back in 1996, while the closest New Zealand have come is in last tournament’s final, but New Zealand, are, right now, head and shoulders above Sri Lanka, and this match went pretty much exactly the way we expected, as New Zealand first bowled Sri Lanka out for a paltry 136, then chased them down in just 16 overs without coming close to losing a wicket. If you think the West Indies vs Pakistan contest was one-sided, you don’t know what one-sided is.
Five Things We Learned:
(1) Sri Lanka are really, really awful
The scoreboard sometimes doesn’t truly reflect the contest, but this time it really did. New Zealand didn’t have to get out of second gear on this one. There was no moment in the entire match where Sri Lanka even threatened to impress. In the previews, Sri Lankans were talking about rebuilding, about trying to do their best for their country. Good on them, but right now it looks like they shouldn’t be in this tournament. Who finished 3rd in the qualifiers? Scotland or Zimbabwe? If only Sri Lanka had had to qualify, they probably wouldn’t have, and either of Scotland or Zimbabwe would surely have put up a better effort than this.
(2) Karunaratne is pretty good at the whole lone hand thing
It’s unusual, especially in one day cricket, for an opening batsman to bat out the innings, but Karunaratne did it, to go along with his top score and lone hand as they were annihilated by South Africa in the warm-up match. If only he had a team to bat around. He is one of their few bright lights.
(3) This Matt Henry kid isn’t half bad
Another relative newcomer to internationals, Matt Henry sure did turn it on here, starting with a correct DRS use second ball, after it was incorrectly given out. To risk wasting their solitary DRS in just the second ball bowled in the match is a big deal, to get it right and to finish with 3 wickets for 29 and the man of the match award is something else entirely. New Zealand used 6 bowlers, all taking wickets here, and Matt Henry was the best.
(4) Just because there’s only 10 teams doesn’t mean close matches
For the second time in a row, a team was bowled out cheaply and lost badly. This time it was worse, losing by 10 wickets. Even the “close one” was decided by nearly 100 runs, between England and South Africa. As for the 4th match, between Australia and Afghanistan, that one isn’t looking too good either.
(5) New Zealand are still in contention for the semi-finals
While they won’t like their warm-up loss to West Indies, it doesn’t actually matter as far as the big stage is concerned. In the World Cup proper, they join England and West Indies with a win, and, as far as run rate is concerned, they are top. In my list, they are 5th, but they are still right up there. It could get down to them, West Indies and India for the 4th and final spot in the semi-finals, assuming that Australia, England and South Africa take the first 3 spots, but, with South Africa one of the 3 teams to have lost their first match, New Zealand are, currently at least, right up there.