India take on Lanka on Friday

Published: Friday, October 27, 2000, 1:00 [IST]
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Sharjah: With Sri Lanka making it to the final of the ongoing Coca Cola Cup tri-nation cricket series winning three league matches in a row, India would definitely like to gain the psychological upper hand by winning the last league match against the islanders ahead of Sunday's possible showdown for the title.A defeat in Thursday's match against India would send Zimbabwe packing, but Saurav Ganguly and his men would look for avenging their 5-wicket loss to the Lankans in the opening tie.

Sri Lanka are expected to experiment with their reserve strength, but coach Dave Whatmore made it clear that there would be no room for complacency. ''We would like to win everything and remain in the right habit,'' he said after the team's thumping 123-run win against Zimbabwe last night. ''There might be some physical changes (in the side), but mentally it will be the same,'' he said.After a three-day rest, India had to enter the second phase league with a depleted batting strength as vice-captain Rahul Dravid had to go out with a broken finger, the injury sustained while fielding in the last match against Zimbabwe.

Mohd Kaif was flown in as a replacement but it is likely that Ganguly will persist with Tamil Nadu batsman S Sriram to fill Dravid's slot for the remainder of the series.The Indian bowling also suffered a dent with Anil Kumble developing a sore shoulder and Ganguly saying that he would not like to risk him with a long series ahead. ''We will play him only if absolutely necessary like in the finals,'' Indian coach Aunshuman Gaekwad added as the players went through the paces ahead of the back-to-back league matches.Left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi, who came in for Kumble bowled admirable in the last match taking a wicket at a crucial juncture when Zimbabwe were steadily progressing towards the Indian total.

Ganguly has made known his preference for seamers saying they are one of the best in the world (along with the Pakistanis) for the slog overs.''Indian and Pakistani seamers are the best in the world for bowling in the slog overs,'' Ganguly said.UNI

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