The ICC World Cup 2015 kicks off between Sri Lanka and New Zealand in Christchurch on Saturday. Many have questioned the complete significance of the group stages but Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar quashed any talks of legitimacy of the six games by stating that every match in the group would go down as a do-or-die encounter, given that one loss can alter the fortunes of the team as the tournament progresses. The first match between Sri Lanka and New Zealand at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch is expected to bring the thrills and frills. With plenty of quality in both the sides, quality cricket is expected.
1. Kumar Sangakkara: Last time Kumar Sangakkara played a World Cup match, he was captaining Sri Lanka against India in the 2011 final. Now he, along with Mahela Jayawardene, in all probability are playing their last One-Day International (ODI) tournament. Given the form that he has been over the last two years, a three-figure score is on the cards. Sanga scored a scintillating double hundred in New Zealand recently and if New Zealand have one player to fear in the opposition ranks, it is the silk-wristed Sri Lankan legend. Read Also: Sri Lanka vs New Zealand, ICC World Cup 2015 Group A, Match 1 Preview
2. Kane Williamson: New Zealand’s classy No 3 is only AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla in terms of performance over the last 18 months in international cricket. The runs seem to be flowing off his blade at utmost will and his batting is a sight to behold. Kane Williamson can be brutal when he wants and is focal point around which the Kiwi batting order revolves.
3. Luke Ronchi: It’s barely been a month since Luke Ronchi’s spectacular assault on the Sri Lankan bowlers at Dunedin. It truly was a breathtaking display of cricket by the Black Caps’ wicket-keeper and if he gets to bat, will be oozing with confidence against an average Sri Lankan attack who were found wanting in these conditions a few weeks ago.
4. Lasith Malinga: Lasith Malinga has just made on time to play the first match and is surely a shot in the arm for the uninspiring Sri Lankan attack. On his day, there are very in the world who can match the slinger’s pace and accuracy. As recent years stand testament to, Malinga’s death bowling can rattle any side in the world. New Zealand didn’t get a taste of Malinga in the recently concluded ODI series and the rejuvenated pacer can catch the co-hosts by surprise.
5. Trent Boult: New Zealand’s left-arm pacer, Trent Boult’s had only played a handful of ODI matches before being drafted into the World Cup side. Any questions over Boult’s adaptability were put to rest a couple of days ago as he skittled out the mighty South African batting order. In conditions that will surely play to his strength to move the ball away from the batsman, Boult is expected to pose serious questions to the Sri Lankan batsmen.