Lanka-Aus clash at the mercy of rain gods

Published: Thursday, February 7, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Sydney: Sri Lanka are hoping the rain will clear for long enough to allow Friday's World Cup final rematch against Australia to go ahead, captain Mahela Jayawardene said here.

However heavy rain returned to the Harbour City on Thursday night, threatening to disrupt the match and leading to the possibility a third successive game may not reach a conclusion.

Meanwhile Mahela is banking upon Lasith Malinga's sheer pace and his ability to reverse swing and expects slinger would come out all guns blazing in what is being considered by his team as a World Cup final re-match against Australia.

''He is bowling as well as I've seen him,'' Jayawadene said.

''If the ball gets roughed up a bit then Lasith can be a handful with his reverse-swing.'' Jayawardene added that the tearaway fast bowler would prefer dry conditions at the SCG so that the pitch is helpful for reverse swing.

''It depends on the climate as well, if it is going to be raining and the ball and the outfield are going to get wet there won't be that much reverse swing. But if it keeps dry there is a very good chance that he can produce some good stuff,'' he said.

''It (rain) has always been hurtful for us if you have spinners, slow bowlers,'' he added.''You can't control the weather. We just need to see if we can get a game in.

''All the guys have been waiting for this opportunity. It's always a challenge for us to play Australia and to challenge ourselves as well to see where we are.'' The 30-year-old praised the young fast bowler Ishara Amarasinghe who returned with impressive figures of one for 30 against India in the rain affected match at Brisbane.

''Ishara has worked really hard. He has been around domestic cricket for quite some time. He's not a youngster,'' the skipper said.

''He has taken some time to develop himself and to realise what kind of potential he has got. It was the first big game for him and he bowled really well. He wasn't overwhelmed by the occasion which is great and hopefully he can keep improving,'' he added.

Punter's woes...: Meanwhile Ricky Ponting was bothered by a marathon list of woes going into Friday's clash with Sri Lanka at the SCG.

There is his back injury, the side's fielding woes, player workload management, the Indian Premier League and …the inclement weather.

Ponting canvassed most of those subjects - and more - after the Australians trained at the SCG nets on Thursday ahead of the third match of the Commonwealth Bank Series.

"The catching is a concern, no doubt about it," Ponting admitted.

"We put a few down in the Test series and the other night was pretty poor as well, with two going down in the slips."

"We've had guys moving all over the place in the cordon."

"The sooner we can get Matty (Hayden) back into the side - and give us a bit more structure back around our slips cordon - the better."

On his injury, Ponting revealed: "My back has been better, I must admit."

"I have had a lot of work over the past few days here. But today I purposely had a really long hit-out in the nets to get a bit more confidence in my movements and try to iron out a bit of the stiffness."

"It's just something that I have to get on top of."

Australia's player workload management has also been a talking point this week, with key players to be given breaks as the world's No.1 side prepares for a gruelling 2008 schedule.

Fast bowler Brett Lee will be the next recipient of some enforced R&R, but retiring wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist is likely to play every game on his swansong tour of Australia.

"I think it would be pretty hard to tell Gilly to have a rest through this Commonwealth Bank series. It's his last hurrah," Ponting said

"We will be looking at giving Brett a game off somewhere. He's had a very high workload already this season."

The only thing the Aussie skipper couldn't be sure of was Sydney's weather.


Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Kumara Sangakkara (wk), Sanath Jayasuriya, Upal Tharanga, Chamara Kapugedera, Chamara Silva, Dilshan Tilakaratne, Diruwan Perera, Chaminda Vaas, Muralitharan, Farvez Maharoof, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekera, Chanaka Welegedara and Ishara Amarasinghe.

Ricky Ponting (capt), Adam Gilchrist (wk), Matthew Hayden, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, James Hopes, Michael Hussey, Brad Hogg, Brad Haddin, Ashley Noffke, Brett Lee, Stuart Clark and Mitchell Johnson.


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