Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > News > Report
'The first 15 overs will be crucial'
Ashish Magotra in Port Elizabeth |
March 17, 2003 21:24 IST
An injury to Damien Martyn, that will keep him out of the World Cup semi-final at Port Elizabeth Tuesday, has not ruffled Australian coach John Buchannan.
He says his team will go in with their in-form batsmen and that means Andrew Symonds and Ian Harvey will find a place in the starting eleven.
Australian skipper Ricky Ponting had mentioned there was a selection dilemma facing the team. "Ian (Harvey) has done nothing wrong with the ball and Symonds has done nothing wrong," he said. At least Martyn's injury saves him that worry, especially since Michael Bevan, sidelined due to injury in the final Super Six game against Kenya, is fit for the semi-final.
Sri Lankan coach Dav Whatmore also does not see it as a very big loss. "They have had so many other changes, it just doesn't seem to matter."
Australia have played two matches at Port Elizabeth and haven't looked comfortable with the bat. In the first match against England, only a valiant rearguard action by Bevan and Andy Bichel ensured victory chasing 204 and in their second match against New Zealand they were struggling at 84/7 before Bevan and Bichel got into the act again.
Buchannan feels the pitch for Tuesday's game is the best wicket of the three. It is still low and slow but not as much as the other two.
Whatmore feels he is not the best judge of the wickets, "but we have played here before and the wicket is slow and low."
That's one thing both coaches agree on. Both made it clear that whatever the wicket is like, they will give it their best shot.
In the previous encounter between the two sides at Centurion, the Australians came up with a wonderful batting performance to pile up 319 and bat Sri Lanka out of the game.
But the Lankans have learnt their lessons and say they are ready for the Aussies.
"The Australia fast bowlers can intimidate batsmen on quick pitches but the pitch is slow here and it's a different ball game," Whatmore said.
For the Sri Lankans the batting responsibilities will rest on Marvan Atapattu, Sanath Jayasuriya and Aravinda De Silva. De Silva, who is likely to retire after the tournament, is sure to be inspired Tuesday.
"De Silva is obviously the key to their batting and he played well against us, last time round. But it all depends upon how well we expose their middle order," said Buchannan.
"Aravinda is a great player and his ability with the bat has been well-documented. He has also been bowling well for us, claiming crucial wickets when we need them. What people don't see is the value of his experience in the field and in one-on-one sessions. He is always ready to help the youngsters," said Whatmore.
Matt Hayden's poor run also does not worry Buchannan.
"Hayden batted well in the last two games. He is not getting as many runs as one would like. But we will see a different Hayden in this game and hopefully it will lead to a lot more runs."
But Whatmore had the last word.
"The Sri Lankans are always very capable. Sometimes when you least expect it, they deliver. Australia are playing terrific cricket at the moment and we need to play tough to triumph. We are aware of what has happened at this venue. The first 15 overs will be critical, batting and bowling."