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South Africa and Sri Lanka head into unknown
March 28, 2007 01:41 IST
South Africa and Sri Lanka will head into the unknown in a new stadium for their second stage World Cup match on Wednesday.
The Super Eights game will be the first to be played at Providence Stadium, which was built for the seven-week long World Cup in the Caribbean and mystery surrounds the nature of the pitch.
Rain on Monday and Tuesday only added to the factors the teams would have to take into account when they considered the conditions.
"It looks a good surface and the outfield looks magnificent considering the weather they've had," Sri Lankan coach Tom Moody told a news conference on Tuesday.
"There wasn't a huge amount of grass on the square which is what you tend to get in Colombo.
"But how it plays is still a mystery to us all because it's a new surface, it's only been laid for eight or nine months.
"There's moisture in the surface but there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of pace in it."
The South Africans gained little insight into the likely conditions when they abandoned their planned net session at the ground on Tuesday because they felt the practice surfaces were not up to standard.
Sri Lanka made the other major teams in the tournament sit up and take notice when they delivered a clinical performance to beat India by 69 runs in their Group B match in Port of Spain, Trinidad on March 23.
"Finishing games off and being professional from start to finish is something we talk about on a regular basis, and that was a big game for us," said Moody, who lent similar importance to Wednesday's match.
"South Africa are a big scalp," he said. "They're number one, and rightly so, they've played some good cricket over the past 12 months.
"A win tomorrow will put us in a good position, because I wouldn't have thought South Africa are going to lose too many games in the Super Eights."
South African all-rounder Andrew Hall held a similarly respectful opinion of the Sri Lankans.
"They have played really well leading up to the Super Eights," Hall said. "It's always a tough challenge going up against them, especially in conditions that suit them a bit."
Hall said the South Africans hoped to improve on their recent record against Sri Lanka.
"When we played them in Australia last season we were missing quite a few guys who are in this squad," Hall said.
"Hopefully this time, at full strength, we can perform well."
Kallis and fast bowler Andre Nel were injured and withdrawn from the squad during that series.
Hall said the absence of heavyweights India and Pakistan from the Super Eights did not mean that the other favoured sides would cruise into the semi-finals.
"Six of the eight teams here can win the World Cup," Hall said. "Only four can make the semis, so two of them are not going to make it.
"You have to play well at all times to reach the semi-final stage. It will be slightly easier because there are two fewer top sides, but there is still a very difficult road ahead."
The Cup: The Complete Coverage
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