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Sri Lanka may rest a key bowler again
John Mehaffey
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April 18, 2007 11:36 IST
Sri Lanka could rest at least one of their still potent but now aging bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan for their final Super Eights match against Ireland on Wednesday.

Left-arm swing bowler Vaas, 33, and off-spinner Muralitharan, who turned 35 on Tuesday, sat out Monday's seven-wicket defeat by defending champions Australia.

Their absence helped to spoil the match as a contest and prompted speculation that they had been deliberately sidelined to keep them away from the Australian batsmen before a possible Australia-Sri Lanka final in Barbados on April 28.

Australia are on course for a semi-final in St Lucia next Wednesday against the fourth-placed side in the second round while Sri Lanka look certain to meet New Zealand in Jamaica on the previous day.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene defended his decision to rest two of the bowlers who were instrumental in winning the 1996 World Cup and said it had not been a tactical ploy. He said Muralitharan had been suffering from a groin strain while Vaas had missed the World Cup warm-up matches because of a sore hamstring.

"Once we realised we'd got the semi-final spot, we realised we needed to give these guys a break," he told a news conference. "Obviously they have had problems over the last six to 12 months, so we had to give them a break in the best interests of the team.

MALINGA RETURN?

"If they want to have a go at Ireland, maybe it won't be that tough a game, they can easily come back into things. But if they feel they need another break we will give them one."

Strike bowler Lasith Malinga, who has missed Sri Lanka's last two matches with an ankle injury, has been bowling in the nets and could return for Wednesday's game.

Ireland, who knocked out Pakistan in the first round on St Patrick's Day, have been one of the tournament's success stories and their Super Eights victory over Bangladesh has earned them a place on the International Cricket Council's one-day championship table.

An associate nation can be promoted when it has played at least 10 one-day internationals and beaten two full test countries.

"We are just going to try and play the best game we possibly can in all three disciplines, the same as what we did against Bangladesh," Ireland captain Trent Johnston told a news conference on Tuesday. "I think that's the best one-day game we have put together in all three disciplines.

Johnston said some of the Irish team had been affected by a virus.

"We will just have to see what happens with that," he said. "A few of the boys are struggling. We are going to sit down this afternoon after training and come up with best team that's going to be competitive against Sri Lanka."

Teams:

Sri Lanka (from) - Upul Tharanga, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Chamara Silva, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Russel Arnold, Farveez Maharoof, Chaminda Vaas, Nuwan Kulasekara, Malinga Bandara, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Lasith Malinga.

Ireland (possible) - William Porterfield, Jeremy Bray, Andre Botha, Eoin Morgan, Niall O'Brien, Kevin O'Brien, Andrew White, Trent Johnston (captain), Kyle McCallan, Dave Langford-Smith, Boyd Rankin.

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