WC 2003 - Lankans unfazed by Aussie form, look forward for clash

Published: Thursday, March 6, 2003, 23:04 [IST]
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Centurion: Sri Lanka will be unfazed by history or Australia's awesome form when it takes on the defending champions in the first match of the World Cup Super Sixes on Friday. Australia showed no signs of being affected by the loss of strike bowlers Jason Gillespie and Shane Warne as it cruised through the preliminary league with an all-win record. The 12 points the Australians have carried through to the Super Sixes means just one more win will lift them into the semi-finals. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, faced a harrowing time during a One-day series down under in December and January against England and the hosts. But Sri Lanka's Australian coach Dav Whatmore insisted his side was looking forward to clashing with the champions again at SuperSport Park on Friday. "Ours is a totally different side now than the team that played in Australia," Whatmore said referring to the growing confidence of Sanath Jayasuriya's men after topping Group B. "We are mentally tougher. The boys want to do well and keep playing good cricket. They have been playing under these conditions for a long time." Whatmore conceded Sri Lanka was the underdogs against Australia, but said that may just help his team to perform better. "Definitely Australia will be the favourites and we will be the underdogs, which we would rather be," he said. "We've had some success against them in the past, but it is fair to say that it will be tough game particularly in these conditions. But you never know." Sri Lanka will be looking for a good start from Marvan Atapattu, fresh from a century against South Africa, and skipper Jayasuriya on a perfect batting wicket. "It's a beauty," Whatmore said of the SuperSport Park wicket where India successfully chased Pakistan's 273 for seven on Saturday. Australian captain Ricky Ponting, still recovering from the loss of Gillespie due to injury, said the little grass on the wicket will help his bowlers. "We will try to unsettle them by taking wickets at the top and make the most of the conditions like we did in the group game against India," Ponting said. The Aussies shot out India's star-studded batting for their lowest World Cup score of 125, Gillespie taking three for 10 in 10 superb overs, to win by nine wickets at the same venue on February 15. "We are not at all relaxed just because we have the maximum points. The objective is to play for a win and keep the momentum going," Ponting said. Australia, already without Warne who withdrew before the tournament after a failed drug test, suffered another blow when Gillespie flew home on Wednesday with an injury to his right heel. "After losing Warne, Gillespie's injury is a huge loss, it's like a kick in the backside," Ponting said. "But it is not t[o much f a worry because we have the experience in the side. We just have to get over it and get on with the game." Australia has called up left-arm seamer Nathan Bracken as a replacement, but he is unlikely to play against Sri Lanka even if he arrives here in time for the game on Thursday.Andy Bichel will partner Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee after recording the second best figures of seven for 20 against England at Port Elizabeth on Sunday. Teams (from): Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Adam Gilchrist, Michael Bevan, Andy Bichel, Ian Harvey, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg,Brett Lee, Darren Lehmann, Jimmy Maher, Damien Martyn, GlennMcGrath, Andy Symonds, Nathan Bracken and Nathan Hauritz.Sri Lanka: Sanath Jayasuriya (captain), Marvan Atapattu,Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda De Silva, Russel Arnold, Jehan Mubarak, Avishka Gunawardena, Hashan Tillekeratne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas, Dilhara Fernando, Pulasthi Gunaratne, Prabath Nissanka and Charitha Buddhika. Umpires: Billy Bowden (New Zealand) and David Shepherd (England). TV umpire: Brian Jerling (South Africa). Match referee: Mike Procter (South Africa). Copyright AFP 2001


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