What a bowler Lasith Malinga is! When needed, he bowled a super over to ensure that his team got through in their clash against New Zealand which started the super eight stage of the ICC World T20. What that game also showed is the importance of a good opening partnership when chasing a stiff target.
The Kiwis had set the Lankans an asking rate of almost nine runs an over, and that is not easy to maintain unless the team gets off to a good start. Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan gave the hosts just the take off they needed by playing cricketing shots and not trying too much too soon.
With Mahela Jayawardene you expect nothing, but pedigree shots and that’s what was seen, while Dilshan not to be outdone carried on to take Lanka close. Unfortunately, the Lankans just lost the plot towards the end and so the super over had to be bowled.
England were chasing pretty much the same score in the next game, but they got off to a horrid start losing two wickets without a run on the board, and though they recovered with the partnership between Alex Hales and Eoin Morgan, the early setbacks meant that they lost valuable overs in the chase.
When you lose the first game of a league stage then you know that you have plenty of catching up to do and unluckily for England and New Zealand they now play against each other, which means that one of them will go out of the competition, if they lose. While England need to have a relook at their batting approach, New Zealand need to look at their batting order and whether the best players are getting the maximum overs to bat.
England also need to look at the bowling options for the death overs. Jade Dernbach, obviously has a very good record bowling in the death overs in county cricket, but at the international level he has not quite lived up to that reputation, apart from the odd game.
Steve Finn, who has bowled quite splendidly in his opening salvo, does not get the ball in the final overs and maybe that is why England are conceding plenty in the last few. Finn's height makes him get bounce and pace off these re-laid Sri Lankan pitches and he is thus not easy to hit the big shots.
For New Zealand, James Franklin has been a revelation as a bowler during the last tango, for he mixes it up cleverly and seldom goes for plenty. It was his bowling that put the brakes on the Lankans when they were cruising to an easy win. It will be a pressure game for both, and the team that is more determined will win the day.
Professional Management Group