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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > PTI > Report

India look to seal semi-final place

March 09, 2003 18:59 IST

After the wake-up call against Kenya, India will be keen to make amends in their second World Cup Super Six game against Sri Lanka Monday at the Wanderers, Johannesburg and grab a win, which will assure them of a semi-final berth.

India have enjoyed a distinct edge over their Asian rivals in recent matches, having defeated Sri Lanka in all the games in the NatWest triangular series in England last year and also dominated in the rain-abandoned finals of the Champions Trophy in Colombo.

The last time the two teams met in a World Cup, India, helped by centuries from Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, had bludgeoned Sri Lanka by 157 runs.

A victory in Monday's game will assure a semi-final berth for India who are placed second in the Super Six table with 12 points. For Sri Lanka, who got a 96-run drubbing at the hands of leaders Australia, it is a must win situation.

Sri Lanka's prospects have been severely affected by the injury to their match-winning skipper Sanath Jayasuriya who is a doubtful starter for the game.

Jaysuriya is still to recover fully from blows he got from Brett Lee during their match on Friday, which left him with a broken thumb and a heavily bruised forearm.

"We will have to wait and see what happens. It is not as bad as we first thought," team manager Ajit Jayasekera.said.

Jayasuriya himself was devastated at the way things have unfolded. "I would love to play against India but it all depends on my fitness," he said.

"We know the game against India is vital. We have had some very good matches against them and I hope everything falls into place for us," he said.

If Jayasuriya is forced to sit out, his place will most probably be taken by Avishka Gunawardene.

India have no injury worries but the form of few of the players has been troubling the team think-tank.

Ganguly minced no words after his team's face-saving win against Kenya on Friday saying the players will have to pull up their socks if they are to maintain their winning run.

Ganguly, who stroked an unbeaten century on Friday to be among runs again, was also critical of the show in the field.

"The fielding was not good at all. The intensity wasn't there. We gave a lot of twos and boundaries. And then there were dropped catches. The fielding was much below par," he said. 

"If Mohammad Kaif who is among the best in the team drops a catch, if Dinesh Mongia who is as good as anybody drops a catch, then we do not have much to say. They know it themselves what they have done. They were not the hardest of chances and they went to the best of fielders," the Indian skipper said.

India dropped four catches in the field including two against the top-scorer Kenedy Obuya.

"We will have to improve and set the record straight before Monday's game," Ganguly said.

However, the one positive that India drew from the match was the fact that they did not lose their way despite early dismissals of three of their top order batsmen.

Dashing opener Virender Sehwag has had an unimpressive show so far and Monday is his chance to get a start and build on it patiently. Sachin Tendulkar failed against Kenya but has shown awesome form in the tournament.

Tendulkar's face-off with champion spinner Muttiah Muralitharan and leading wicket-taker Chaminda Vaas has already generated a lot of interest.

Tendulkar will be face to face with Muralitharan after three years and he will want to make the meeting a  memorable one as will the spin wizard.

Sri Lankan coach Dav Whatmore was not too bothered by reputations and said his team had full measure of the Indian bigwigs.

"India is a very good side but it is not Australia. They have a couple of incredible match-winners but we have played them many times and know their strengths and weaknesses," he said.

"They might be on the top of their game right now but they can be beaten. We have done it before and we can do it again," Whatmore said.

Whatmore's confidence stems from the team's ability to stage a comeback after reverses. The 1996 champions were upset by Kenya in their league match but bounced back to defeat the West Indies and tied the rain-hit match against South Africa to squeeze into the Super Sixes.

An equally unpredictable India, who hammered 100 runs in 10 overs against Pakistan but struggled to put up 25 in their next match against Kenya, will have to be up on their guard.


India: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Dinesh Mongia, Parthiv Patel, Sanjay Bangar, Ajit Agarkar, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif.

Sri Lanka: Sanath Jayasuriya (captain), Marvan Atapattu, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda De Silva, Russel Arnold, Jehan Mubarak, Avishka Gunawardena, Hashan Tillakaratne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas, Dilhara Fernando, Pulasthi Gunaratne, Prabath Nissanka, Charitha Buddhika.

Umpires: David Shepherd (England), Simon Taufel (Australia).

TV umpire: Daryl Harper (Australia).

Match referee: Clive Lloyd (West Indies).

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