WC 2003 - In all probabilities its thumbs down for skipper Sanath

Published: Monday, February 17, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Johannesburg: Sri Lanka will wait till the last minute before deciding whether injured captain Sanath Jayasuriya will play in the World Cup Super Sixes match against India on Monday."There's a 75 per cent chance I will play but I am not fully fit yet," the left-hander said during the team nets at the Wanderers on Sunday.Jayasuriya was hit by a delivery from Australian fast bowler Brett Lee during the opening Super Sixes game at Centurion on Friday which forced him to retire hurt with a heavily bruised left forearm and a broken thumb.He came to the nets on Sunday but was unable to have a full batting session, nor could he bowl."I was in lot of pain when I tried to play a few shots," the inspirational Sri Lankan captain said. "It is not so much the forearm which is a problem but the tip of the thumb which is very painful."I feel I may be able to bowl but only if needed. I want to wait till just before the toss before deciding whether or not I can play. It is such a big game and I don't want to miss out."Sri Lanka, who lost to Australia by 96 runs at Centurion, must defeat both India and Zimbabwe in its remaining games to book its place in the semi-finals.The 1996 champions could even go through with one victory, but only if the results of the other matches favour them.If Jayasuriya's worries were not enough, the Sri Lankans were also sweating over a groin injury sustained by middle-order batsman Hashan Tillekeratne against Australia."We will see how Hashan goes and then adjust the batting order accordingly," Jayasuriya said.Avishka Gunawardena and Jehan Mubarak are standing by to fill any vacancies in the batting order which has been weakened by the poor form of Mahela Jayawardena.The 25-year-old has made just 16 runs in five innings, including a duck against Australia, and coach Dav Whatmore conceded that Jayawardena was battling to sort out the problem."He has to come out of it himself," Whatmore said. "We have been giving him as much help as we can and he has batted in every net session."He is more disappointed than anyone else but that is the way it goes sometimes. He is a special player and his contribution has been sadly missed."Jayasuriya said the game against India will be closely fought - whether he himself played or not."India has come back strongly after losing to Australia, but we also showed a lot of character to bounce back after the Kenya defeat," he said."Both teams have had some special games in the past and this one will not be any different."India, which has 12 points to Sri Lanka's 7.5, will advance to the semi-finals if it wins one of its remaining games against Sri Lanka or New Zealand.Sri Lanka's star spinner Muthiah Muralitharan, meanwhile, was confident the Indian batting juggernaut, led by Sachin Tendulkar, can be stopped."We have not played against India for some time now and that is an advantage," Muralitharan said. "Both teams will be watching each other very closely."I am not targeting anyone, you can't. The entire Indian top order is so good. "You can't fox Tendulkar easily. He reads the ball so early. I'll be really happy if I can pick up four to five wickets against the Indians and help Sri Lanka win."Copyright AFP 2001

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