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Home > Cricket > The Cup > Reuters > Report

Sri Lanka specialists hold key, says Jayawardene

Simon Evans | April 24, 2007 11:30 IST

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Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene accepts Tuesday's World Cup semi-final opponents New Zealand have more batting options than his side but believes his specialist bowlers can do enough for victory.

"Obviously New Zealand have a lot of depth in their batting, that is no secret," said Jayawardene.

"We have a different combination, we have genuine bowlers in our line-up and we rely on the top seven to score the runs. The top seven are there to bat the 50 overs, simply that is how we go about our game.

"If your top seven guys don't score in the 50 overs then you can't blame the others."

Jayawardene confirmed that one of his specialist bowlers -- paceman Lasith Malinga is fully fit for the game, after missing the last three Super Eight matches with an ankle injury.

"He is 100 percent and is available for selection. All the guys are at 100 percent," he said.

As well as Malinga, whose slingy action has brought him 15 wickets in the tournament so far, Sri Lanka also have the most dangerous off-spinner in modern cricket in Muttiah Muralitharan and seamer Chaminda Vaas.

Critics have suggested that Sri Lanka's batting is overly reliant on the 37-year-old Sanath Jayasuriya but the captain said he was pleased with the contribution from his other main batsmen.

"We've adjusted well to the conditions, we've played under difficult conditions because I've practically lost the toss every time.

"We've fought for each other and the middle order has done pretty well, even though there are no outstanding guys who have really scored a lot of runs, everyone has chipped in and that is very important for us," he said.

Jayawardene felt Sri Lanka, champions in 1996, could also have the edge in handling the pressure of a big match as New Zealand have never reached a World Cup final.

"In terms of experience I think our guys have played in more big and tough matches," he said.

Sri Lanka were criticised after they rested Muralitharan and Vaas against Australia, with both sides having already booked their places in the last four, but Jayawardene said that decision had been merited and had paid off.

"The aim was to keep those guys fresh and they look fresh," he said.

Sri Lanka beat New Zealand in the second round and Jayawardene said there were few secrets to discover.

"We have played each other a few times and know each other's strengths and weaknesses," he said.

The other semi-final, in St Lucia on Wednesday, will feature favourites and holders Australia against South Africa.

The seven-week tournament culminates with the final in Barbados on Saturday.

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