Crunch game for Sri Lanka
It's a Super Saturday! Australia take on Sri Lanka in a crucial World Cup encounter at the R Premadasa stadium in Colombo.
Having lost to Pakistan a few days back, captain Kumar Sangakkara is aware his team can ill-afford to lose another game, keeping in mind the final group placings.
The fact that there's been a lot of talk about the ability of their opponents against spin --taking into account their capitulation to India in the warm-up game in Bengaluru -- gives the home side the leeway it requires.
And playing a third spinner might just do the trick for Sri Lanka.
Image: Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara and Muralitharan during a practice session
'It's a great advantage to have three spinners'
Sangakkara isn't averse to the idea. In fact, he is game for it. "It's a possibility that we are exploring," admitted the Sri Lankan captain, adding, "We will have a chat today to see if it's the best way to play Australia or not.
"We have got three great spinners -- Muttiah Muralidaran, Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis -- and a few handy part-timers in the line-up as well. So, we'll have to make a decision on that."
However, Sangakkara was quick to add that what would matter more than the team composition is the performance on the given day.
"It's a great advantage to have three spinners but it's all about how you bowl on that day," he warned.
"If you bowl to your fields and bowl aggressively, I think those are the key components of maximising the advantage."
Image: Rangana Herath bowls during a practice session in Colombo
Australia's pace battery
Sri Lanka's captain also admitted his team is more worried about the Australian pace attack vis- -vis their spinners.
"Australia's real strength is their pace attack. They have three quality fast bowlers who are genuinely quick," said Sangakkara, adding, "They will come very hard at us right from ball one.
"So if we can absorb that initially pressure and try to play as best as we can, then, maybe, there will be an opportunity to capitalise on their spin bowling."
He went on to defend his team's flailing middle order, which has come under intense criticism from former players and the local press.
"I don't see any need for drastic changes in the middle order," explained Sangakkara, adding, "They players have scored the runs and that's again the responsibility of the batsman to make sure that he gets out there and whatever the situation he scores runs."
Image: Shaun Tait and Brett Lee during a practice session
Photographs: Getty Images
Australia's ominous record against SL
Sangakkara brushed aside talk about the island nation's poor record against the team from Down Under in the tournament -- Sri Lanka won just once (1996 final) in seven matches against Australia -- would be on their mind when they take the field on Saturday.
"The fact we have lost to them so many times is because they are a very good side and because there was a lack of the belief earlier," reasoned Sangakkara, adding, "When we went to Australia on the last tour -- which they won 2-1 -- the key changes that we made was to basically get our attitude, the way we looked at the opportunity of winning and getting our mental strength right.
"And those changes are more important than technical changes."
Image: Australia's Ricky Ponting and Shaun Tait during a practice session in Colombo
Photographs: Getty Images