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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Thrilling matches in the offing as Lanka-Proteas kick-start WC quarters

Thrilling matches in the offing as Lanka-Proteas kick-start WC quarters

March 15, 2015 20:20 IST

India have to be cautious against giant slayers Bangladesh

Lasith Malinga of Sri Lanka celebrates with his teammates after claiming a wicket

Lasith Malinga of Sri Lanka celebrates with his teammates after claiming a wicket. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

With top teams making the quarterfinal line-up, the knockout stage will begin when South Africa take on 1996 champions Sri Lanka on Wednesday at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Sri Lanka, who have had an excellent run in the final few matches of the league stage, ended third in pool A with opener Kumar Sangakkara leading the run-scorers chart after hitting a record four consecutive ODI hundreds -- a first in the 50-over format.

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South Africa on the other hand, endured a bumpy ride in the league stages after losses to India and Pakistan but skipper AB de Villers has led by example after scoring 417 runs in six matches.

Indian players walk off the field

Indian players walk off the field. Photograph: Vipin Pawar/Solaris

Defending champions India seem to have the simplest test against Bangladesh as the Asian rivals lock horns at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, on Thursday.

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The Men in Blue look to have it easy against the Tigers but skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has warned the side of showing slack against the so-called minnows, who have been instrumental in knocking England out of the tournament.

India will also remember their league stage exit in the 2007 edition when they bowed out after losing to Bangladesh to avoid a potential banana slip this time around.

Australia's Michael Clarke

Australia's Michael Clarke. Photograph: Hamish Blair/Reuters

Come Friday, four-time champions Australia lock horns with an unpredictable Pakistan side, in what is pitted to be the most promising game of the last-eight stage.

Pakistan are the 1992 champions and will hope to pull off an unexpected win against the co-hosts.

In the final quarters clash, co-hosts and the dark horse, New Zealand, will be up against West Indies, who sneaked into the knock-outs but can always be a potential threat due their unpredictability.

New Zealand players celebrate after taking a wicket

New Zealand players celebrate after a dismissal. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The Kiwis, who have reached six Word Cup semi-finals, will once again be looking to get past the Caribbean side and then cross the final-four hurdle this time around to live up to the favourites tag.

But just as the big guns will battle to get closer to the coveted title, England will be licking their wounds after making an early exit from the quadrennial event but cricket as they say is a game of glorious uncertainties.

A reserve day has been scheduled for each of the seven knock-out matches.

If a quarter-final or semi-final is tied, abandoned or if the match is a no-result, then the team that finished in the higher position in the Pool stage will progress.

Schedule of knockout stage matches

Quarter-finals:

March 18: South Africa v Sri Lanka, Sydney Cricket Ground

March 19: India v Bangladesh, Melbourne Cricket Ground

March 20: Australia v Pakistan, Adelaide Oval

March 21: New Zealand v West Indies, Wellington Regional Stadium

Semi-finals:

March 24: Eden Park, Auckland

March 26: Sydney Cricket Ground

Final:

March 29: Melbourne Cricket Ground

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