The Group Stages with letters are over, and we move into the Super 12s stage of the 2022 T20 World Cup. The groups are now defined by numbers, and here we have a Group 1 match with Sri Lanka taking on Ireland and a Group 2 contest between old rivals India and Pakistan.
Here is a look at the two matches with odds from BetXchange.
Sri Lanka VS Ireland – Bellerive Oval, Hobart
These two should be up to speed as each will be playing their fourth game at the World Cup. Ireland stunned the West Indies with a nine-wicket victory on Friday to make it out of Group B and sent a Windies team that was expected to make some noise in Australia home at the first hurdle. Sri Lanka also looked vulnerable after losing to Namibia in their Group A opener, but they rallied to comfortably win their next two matches and top the group.
Can Ireland rally twice as giant killers? The way they stood up to beat the West Indies was exceptional, but doing that twice on the bounce is a tough ask. As mentioned before their last game, Sri Lanka has taken some licks in getting through the group stages. Their best fast bowler – Dushmantha Chameera – is out for the tournament, a problem given that these pitches in Australia love pace. In particular, Hobart is a ground where pace wins, so it will be interesting to see if spinners Wanindu Hasarange and Maheese Theekshana can get the ball moving as they were able to in the more spin-friendly location of Geelong. I like Sri Lanka to win here, but the health of their team – openers Sanushka Gunathilaka and Pathum Nissanka are also both carrying knocks – is a real concern moving forward.
India VS Pakistan – MCG, Melbourne
It almost seems fitting that the first match for India and Pakistan in the World Cup would be against each other. The only worry is that one of cricket’s finest spectacles might not reach its desired conclusion as the chances of rain in Melbourne are worryingly high, with just a few hours to go until the first ball is bowled.
A defeat here won’t destroy the World Cup chances for their country, but given the history between the two and the fierce battles on the oval over the years, the winner will be in an excellent position moving forwards.
The battle to watch here is India’s formidable batting against one of the best bowlers in the world in Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi. He will be the man tasked with eating into India’s batting options during the powerplay, and a contest between him and fourth man Suryakumar Yadav would be fascinating. Yadav has all the shots and can make them against either spin or pace.
India has history on its side here. They have played 11 T20Is against each other to date, with India winning eight and Pakistan just three. Pakistan, however, beat India and knocked them out of the recent Asia Cup, suggesting that this version of their team has no fear of their neighbour. Even so, I like India to bounce back and win this one.