Do or die situation for SL against buoyant India

Published: Friday, July 5, 2002, 21:23 [IST]
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Edgbaston (Birmingham): A buoyant India will look to carry on with its stupendous form in the NatWest tri-series and assure itself of a final berth by denying the Sri Lankans a victory yet again on Saturday. Having lost all its three matches in the tri-series so far, Sri Lanka faces the daunting task of upstaging India, which in contrast is yet to lose a match in the series.

India's third match against England on Thursday was abandoned due to rains, but it was in a winnable situation having piled up 285 for four in 50 overs. India has 10 points from three games the same as England but the latter has played an extra game. The three defeats in a row have pushed the Lankans to the wall, and they must now win their remaining three league matches if they are to entertain any hope of making it to the final at Lord's on July 13.

Knowing very well that any slip up now could knock it out of reckoning for the final, Sri Lanka is expected to go all out against India on Saturday. Unfortunately for it, it is up against a new-look Indian team, which has shown tremendous character even in pressure situations. Sachin Tendulkar joined the list of batsmen in form as he struck an enthralling 108- ball 105 to steer the team out of trouble which was once reduced to 52 for three during the Riverside day-night match on Thursday.

The flourish in the end was again provided by Yuvraj Singh who smashed 40 off just 19 balls and now has scores of 64, 31 and 40 in his three knocks in the tournament. India is also bowling well and it must be a source of worry for Sri Lanka, which does not have a similar depth in batting. It still has some capable batsmen in Marvan Atapattu and Mahela Jayawardene though captain Sanath Jayasuriya, as he showed in his 87-ball 112 against England at Headingley on Tuesday, is also getting his act together. Sri Lanka though is missing the presence of its match-winning bowler, Muthiah Muralitharan, who has gone back home for medical attention to his injured shoulder.

The teams (from): India: Saurav Ganguly (captain), Virender Sehwag, Dinesh Mongia, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.

Sri Lanka: Sanath Jayasuriya (captain), Romesh Kaluwitharana, Marvan Atapattu, Mahela Jayawardene, Russel Arnold, Buddika Fernando, Dilhara Fernando, Upul Chandana, Chaminda Vaas,Nuwan Zoysa, Naveed Nawaz and Pramodya Wickramasinghe.

Umpires: Steve Bucknor (West Indies) and Neil Mallender (England).

Third umpire: Peter Willey (England).

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