In the current World Cup there has been 7 matches in the main round. 6 teams have played 2 matches. India and Sri Lanka have won both matches, while South Africa, New Zealand, Pakistan and West Indies have won and lost one each. Interestingly, there is a strange trend in these results. Three teams have lost the first match but won their second match. On Thursday, Netherlands and England will play their second matches after losing the first matches. Can South Africa and Sri Lanka defy the trend and emerge winner!!
The Trend of Losing First and Winning Second
Pakistan was the first team to start the trend. It lost against India but won against Australia. Then South Africa and West Indies made it a trend. South Africa lost to Sri Lanka by 5 runs in the first match, but won by 2 runs against New Zealand in their second match. West Indies, like Pakistan, lost to India but thumped hosts Bangladesh in their second match. England and Netherlands have lost their first matches. They may take extra motivation from the fact that except New Zealand, who won their first match, none of the teams have lost their second matches. It is strange to be mentioned as trend, but if Netherlands (vs South Africa) and England (Vs Sri Lanka) or even one of them register a win, to deny the trend one must say 1+1 is not equal to 2.
Netherlands vs South Africa
Considering the disciplined and highly professional approach of South Africa, Netherlands does not stand a chance. Yet, in T20 any team can win on their day. Both teams have never played a T20 against each other. Among wins against other Associates, Netherlands has defeated two test playing nations already winning once each against Bangladesh and England. Their record chase against Ireland to qualify for the main round certainly raised expectations, but Sri Lanka brought them down to earth. South African approach may not be different, yet if few players succeed and they manage to achieve even half of what they did against Ireland, Cricket fans would have something to remember about the match. South Africa has never lost a T20 against a minnow, which includes Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
England vs Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is the best team, by record and ranking, in T20 World but they are yet to win the World Cup. England is one-time champion of T20 World Cup. The pitch appears to be a decisive factor for England when they play on sub-continent. No surprises why they have a poor record in Asia when they play on spinning tracks. Bangladesh is in fact offerring more of spin, and Sri Lanka has some of the best spinners in the world. Even their record of losing 3 and winning only 1 in the 4 T20s they have played against Sri Lanka does not infuse much confidence.
In the World Cup both have met twice. In 2010, England won by 7 wickets in the semifinal, while in 2012 in Super Eight Sri Lanka won by 19 runs. Considering the current strengths and performances, Sri Lanka appears to be the run away winner, unless Morgan showcases some extraordinary game.