A battle of nerves in the offing as Oz meet SL

Published: Sunday, April 15, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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St. George's, Grenada:It is going to be a battle of nerves as title contender Sri Lanka takes on defending champion Australia in the Super Eight league match of Cricket World Cup here tomorrow.

With both the teams already in the semis, a win will boost the morale of the team that wins before a likely meeting in the semi-finals again.

New Zealand's win against South Africa yesterday at Grenada has assured the Islanders of a place in the semi-finals.

Australia already have 10 points, an all-win record and a net run rate so far ahead of everyone else that even a defeat at Sri Lankas hands is not likely to remove them from the top of the table.

But then defending champions are known for not resting on their laurels, and are likely to go all out for two more points.

''Its the business end of the World Cup for us now, and well get a better measure of where were at after the next two games.

Weve got two very big matches against Sri Lanka and New Zealand before the semis in very different conditions to Barbados, and well have to adapt quickly,'' remarked Australian captain Ricky Ponting.

''After those two matches, we will know where we are at. Well also know where these two teams are at,'' he said.

Australia play New Zealand in their final super league game here next Friday.

''Weve got a good record down the years of stringing together consecutive wins, whether its in Test matches or one-dayers, and were on a very good run at the moment,'' the Punter added.

That good run has seen the Aussies thrash all opposition in this tournament so far and by big margins.

But Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene was unfazed. ''We are under no pressure, We have to play our own style of - the Lanka brand of cricket and keep ourselves focused. We have beaten Australia a couple of times on their home turf.'' Sri Lanka are likely to rest pace spearhead Lasith Malinga who is nursing ligament damage in his left ankle sustained ahead of the South Africa match here on Thursday.

The Aussies have not even had their batting line-up tested at this tournament and against Ireland, chose to promote middle order finisher Mike Hussey to open alongside Adam Gilchrist. The World Cups leading wicket-taker, Glenn McGrath is in fine fettle as evident from his 18 wickets at this World Cup and the fiery Shaun Tait has filled in ably for Brett Lee.

About the only worry Australian have is the fact that no team has had the wherewithal to really put the team under pressure to see how the squad reacts in that situation. Sri Lanka may well be the team to do that for as Kiwis skipper Stephen Fleming put it, ''They (Lankans) have the best attack in the world at the moment and play unorthodox cricket.'' It remains to be seen whether Jayawardene will go all out to halt Australia now, or wait for a likely final showdown.

These two teams last met in a World Cup final in 1996, and the Arjuna Ranatunga led side won.

Teams (from):

Australia: Ricky Ponting (Capt), Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Michael Hussey, Stuart Clark ,Shane Watson, Brad Hogg, Nathan Bracken, Glenn McGrath, Shaun Tait, Brad Hodge, Bradley Hodge, Mitchell Johnson.

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (Capt), Kumar Sangakkara, Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Marvan Atapattu, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Russel Arnold, Chamara Silva, Chaminda Vaas, Farveez Maharoof, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Nuwan Kulasekara, Muttiah Muralitharan, Malinga Bandara.

Umpires: Aleem Dar, Billy Doctrove, 3rd umpire: Mark Benson, 4th umpire : Daryl Harper.

Match Referee: Mike Procter.


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