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Pakistan and Sri Lanka eye run rates

September 14, 2004 10:52 IST

Pakistan and Sri Lanka start their ICC Champions Trophy campaigns today knowing victories against Kenya and Zimbabwe are not their sole objectives.

Australia's eagerness to surpass New Zealand's net run rate in the nine wicket thrashing of the United States on Monday has highlighted the need to top group tables in case the weather severely disrupts the tournament.

With only one team qualifying for the semi-finals from each group, Pakistan will be looking to better the run rate Group C rivals India recorded in their 98-run win over Kenya when they face the Africans at Edgbaston on Tuesday.

The final group clash with India is already occupying Pakistani players' minds but they must first concentrate on the Kenya game.

The World Cup semi-finalists possess some useful cricketers despite their lack of international action in the last 18 months with Thomas Odoyo proving useful with the ball against India taking two for 43 off his 10 overs.

If anything, Sri Lanka are better equipped than Pakistan at maintaining a high run rate and should have little trouble in dispatching Zimbabwe after the inexperienced side lost by 152 runs to England over two days last week.

The flat but bouncy Oval wicket should also suit pace bowling pair Chaminda Vaas and Nuwan Zoysa, who will want to show final Group D opponents England that their attack is still dangerous without the injured spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.

"If you maintain good line and length even on a flat track you can do well," Zoysa told Reuters, adding that the quality of the opposition batsman should not alter a bowler's approach.

"Any batsman is a challenge. They all have their game plans."

Zimbabwe captain and wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu hit 40 against England before unluckily falling onto his own stumps.

He will have to play even better if his side is to have any chance of upsetting a Sri Lankan team still buoyed by their 5-0 drubbing of South Africa last month.

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