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Sri Lanka deny resting key bowlers for tactical reasons
John Mehaffey | April 17, 2007 16:19 IST
Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan joined the injured Lasith Malinga on the sidelines on Monday in a second-round match between two sides who have already qualified for the semi-finals.
Although it was batting rather than bowling which let them down in the seven-wicket loss to the defending champions, their absence meant the Sri Lankans were in effect fielding a second-string attack.
Unless there is a set of improbable results in the remainder of the Super Eights the two sides will not meet in the semi-finals but could stage a repeat of the 1996 final, which Sri Lanka won, in Barbados on April 28.
Jayawardene told a news conference the Sri Lankan management had not rested the pair to prevent the Australia batsmen getting a look at them ahead of a possible final.
"If you want to think it was a tactical decision that's for you to think about," he said. "That wasn't the intention. The intention was to give them a break.
"We never devalued the game but we just felt we had to make a team decision because we couldn't sustain another injury like what happened to Lasith.
"These guys are key players and if they are not fit going into the business end of the tournament we would look back and think why we didn't make this decision."
Jayawardene said Muralitharan had played with strapping for the last two or three games because of a groin problem while Vaas had not played in the two warm-up matches because he was recovering from a hamstring injury.
"He's bowled for six matches in a row and we thought it was time for him to get a break, simple as that. The Australians have seen Chaminda Vaas and they have seen Muralitharan.
"The Australians know what Vaas and Muralitharan can do."
Australia captain Ricky Ponting said he did not know why Sri Lanka had made their decision.
"You've probably asked them their reasons, I don't know their reasons," he said. "I don't care what their reasons are.
"We turned up today, we put our best team on the park to win the game. We clearly finished on top which is great. Whatever opposition teams do, I don't care."
(Additional reporting by Telford Vice)
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