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Sri Lanka ready to test Australia
April 16, 2007 02:00 IST
Sri Lanka will enjoy conditions equivalent to a home match in Monday's World Cup Super Eights clash with world champions Australia under a hot sun on a slow pitch at the Grenada National Stadium.
Both teams have already qualified for the semi-finals on April 24 and 25 along with New Zealand who beat South Africa by five wickets on Saturday.
The Sri Lankans ended New Zealand's unbeaten run on Thursday with a six-wicket victory and Kiwi skipper Stephen Fleming later admitted it had been a mistake to play only one spinner on a surface which has suited the slower bowlers.
Even in the probable absence of strike bowler Lasith Malinga, who has injured his left ankle, Sri Lanka field a versatile attack headed by Chaminda Vaas's left-arm swing and Muttiah Muralitharan's right-arm off spin.
They also possess Sanath Jayasuriya, still one of the most destructive opening batsman in the world, and a host of other stroke-makers ready to take on an Australian attack which has not yet been fully tested during their unbeaten progression through the tournament.
"We are ready for a hard, honest contest and I think these conditions here probably will suit Sri Lanka right down to the ground. We know that we are going to have to be at our best tomorrow," Australia captain Ricky Ponting told a news conference on Sunday.
"Our plan tomorrow will be to get through the new ball as well as we can and keep wickets in hand for the middle part of the game which is going to be when they will try and slow things down with their spinners."
Ponting said his team had not even discussed their 25-match unbeaten run in World Cups stretching back to the 1999 tournament.
"Sooner or later the run is going to come to an end and we're going to lose a game," he said. "That's going to happen at some stage, but the way we're playing at the moment hopefully it's not in this tournament."
Sri Lanka coach Tom Moody, who played in Australia's 1999 World Cup winning side and was a member of the squad who won the 1987 tournament, said his team are playing a successful brand of cricket.
"The wicket here is a reasonably dry," he said. "It takes turn and we carry a number of spin options. If they [Australia] consider that is an advantage coming into the match, that's great."
Australia: Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Michael Hussey, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Nathan Bracken, Shaun Tait, Glenn McGrath.
Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga, Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Kumar Sangakkara, Chamara Silva, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Russel Arnold, Chaminda Vaas, Farveez Maharoof, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan.
The Cup: The Complete Coverage
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