It turns out that I need to go to New Zealand and, by the purest coincidence, will be in Auckland during the final week of the cricket World Cup, when the two semi-final games and the final will be played. The first semi-final will actually be in Auckland itself and one of the teams will likely be New Zealand (my second favorite team after Sri Lanka), provided it wins its quarterfinal game against the fourth place team in group B that has yet to be determined.
There is even the possibility that if NZ wins they may play Sri Lanka in the Auckland game provided Sri Lanka ends up in third place in group A. This requires NZ to beat Bangladesh in their final group game today and for Australia to beat Scotland tomorrow or both Bangladesh and Scotland winning. Sri Lanka then has to beat South Africa in their quarterfinal game, a tough prospect.
Even if the first semi-final game in Auckland does turn out to be between NZ and SL, it is highly unlikely that I will be able to get a ticket at this late stage, even if my schedule there allows for me to attend. It would be wonderful to see the magnificent Kumar Sangakkara play before he retires. He has been on a tear recently, racking up consecutive World Cup centuries in his last four innings (no one else has ever had more than two) and is easily the highest scorer in the tournament so far, and consolidating his place as one of the greatest batsmen of all time. But at least I will be able to watch the game on TV at a decent hour without having to stay up pretty much through the night.
In these one-day games, each team is given the opportunity to review an umpire’s on-field verdict just once. If they are successful, their one chance is preserved and can be used again. Sri Lanka has developed a reputation for squandering their chances and making the worst appeals but in their final group game against Scotland they made amends. A ball from fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekera seemed to go over the waving bat of Michael Leask without making contact and was caught by Sangakkara. Sri Lanka appealed for a catch and it was given not out. To everyone’s surprise, Sangakkara (or maybe fielder Seekuge Prasanna) called for a review and there was much eye-rolling at one more futile Sri Lankan review. But to even greater surprise, Snicko revealed that there had been the faintest of contact and Leask was actually out. You can see the play here. (If for some reason, that link does not work, you will have to go here and click on the arrow next to Leask’s name.)
It has not been a good tournament for Scotland so far. They have not played badly but they are still searching for their elusive first World Cup win, having come frustratingly close on several occasions. I expect them to be really fired up for their last game against Australia and try and go out on a high note with a glorious victory that will make up for all their disappointments. But Australia may have too much firepower for them.