Cricket: Must-win encounter for Black Caps against Sri Lanka

By Kris Shannon

Brendon McCullum is the first man to notch 2000 international runs in T20 cricket. Photo / AP
Brendon McCullum is the first man to notch 2000 international runs in T20 cricket. Photo / AP

New Zealand's World T20 hopes now hinge on a virtual quarter-final with Sri Lanka tomorrow morning (NZT).

After dispatching the Dutch in their third group game in Chittagong yesterday morning, the Black Caps face a simple equation if they wish to progress to the semifinals - win and they're in, lose and they go home.

It's a proposition they probably would have taken at the start of the tournament, though their recent record in limited-overs encounters with Sri Lanka, especially on the sub-continent, leaves a little to be desired.

But New Zealand will be confident of overturning the outcome from the last time these teams met at this competition, when Sri Lanka inflicted a super over defeat in the group stages that helped bring about the Black Caps' early exit.

Brendon McCullum's side have been in encouraging form so far this month and had they edged South Africa in the final over last week, they would have been safely through to the final four.

As it stands, their comfortable six-wicket win over the Netherlands, combined with the Proteas' victory to eliminate England, leaves a semifinal spot resting on one final match.

If the Black Caps are to produce the big performance they need, it will hardly be a surprise if Brendon McCullum is again at the forefront. In the form of his life, the skipper became the first man to notch 2000 international runs in the shortest form. After his six-ball 16 not out won the opening match against England, McCullum again ensured his charges got across the line, hitting 65 from 45 deliveries in chasing the Netherlands' 151.

Sitting more than 600 runs ahead of his nearest challenger in T20 runs, McCullum will lead this category for the foreseeable future and Trent Boult thinks that accolade is fully deserved.

"It's pretty well-known across the board what sort of player Brendon is, so for him to tick up that milestone is obviously personally pretty satisfying and something that the team loves to see.

"He's a massive part of our side ..."

The Black Caps will probably need greater contributions from their bowlers if they are able to sneak past Sri Lanka.

The Dutch enjoyed a relatively easy time at the crease in the middle overs, losing only four wickets in their allotment, and more pressure will need to be applied against superior opponents.

- APNZ

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