Lanka face a daunting task against Oz

Updated: 04 March 2008 08:57 IST

Sri Lanka will need a spark of inspiration when they take on Australia in a crucial game on Friday.

Lanka face a daunting task against Oz

Melbourne:

Faced with the stiff task of winning at least two more matches to secure a place in the cricket tri-series final, Sri Lanka will need a spark of inspiration when they take on Australia in a crucial game on Friday.

Languishing at the bottom of the point table, Sri Lanka just cannot afford yet another defeat on Friday and as outlined by their captain Mahela Jayawardene, every match is a semifinal for the islanders, who have been lacklustre in the tournament so far.

Despite their fierce on-field rivalry with the world champions, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his teammates would love to see Australia win on Friday, an outcome that would ease India's passage to the final of the tournament.

As of now, the hosts lead the table with 17 points from five matches, while India is a distant second with 12 from six games.

The Lankans languish at the bottom with six points from five games and they need to win two of their remaining three games to reach the final.

The Jayawardene-led side has not live up to the expectation with both the batsmen and bowlers failing to make much of an impact in the series so far.

The batting order looked brittle and the attack, despite having the likes of Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan, lacked teeth.

Even their reputation as one of the better fielding side took a beating and Jayawardene did not hide his disappointment after Tuesday's defeat against India.

"We were 20 runs short in our total. In the fielding, we gave at least 15 extra runs and in bowling, we bowled too short and wide at times.

"We were not very consistent with our line and length and bowled a bit short and wide. Our fielding was not up to scratch," he said.

Not that the batsmen did any better. Apart from Kumar Sangakkara, none looked game for a fight.

Veteran Sanath Jayasuriya's trademark fireworks has been brief, while others, including the captain himself, too have failed to do justice to their reputation.

In such a situation, Jayawardene reckons he and Sangakkara would have to shoulder extra load.

"Kumar and I have decided that we would look to bat majority of overs if we get a bad start. In the last few innings, I did not support him," he said.

While it's difficult to derive any positive out of the whole situation, Jayawardene refuses to give up.

"We cannot afford to lose. Every game is a semi-final for us from now on. We made a few mistakes at the start of the tournament but we are now getting into it.

"We will keep fighting and show the fighting spirit that we lately have been showing," he said.

Australia, on the other hand, have no such worries.

Sitting pretty on the points tally and virtually assured of a place in the final, Ricky Ponting's men would be under less pressure on Friday

For the hosts, retiring hero Adam Gilchrist has been in good nick and his exploit has been able to mask the failure of his opening partner Matthew Hayden.

Michael Clarke has been rock solid in the middle, while the lower order batsmen too seemed keen to make a statement with the willow.

Even more satisfying has been the performance of the Australian bowlers, who seems capable of defending any total, however, meagre it may look.

In their previous match against India, they had just 209 runs to defend and still the bowlers chalked out a 50-run victory against a batting order runs deep and that commands worldwide respect.

It was a superlative show, considering the fact that the Australian attack was sans its spearhead Brett Lee in the match and still the hosts not only mowed down India's much-vaunted batting order but also bagged an extra bonus point from the low-scoring outing.

Squads (From):

Australia: Ricky Ponting (c), Adam Gilchrist, Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, James Hopes, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Andrew Symonds, Ashley Noffke, Adam Voges.

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (c), Kumar Sangakkara, Ishara Amerasinghe, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Farveez Maharoof, Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan, Dilruwan Perera, Chamara Silva, Upul Tharanga, Chaminda Vaas, Chanaka Welegedara.

Match starts 8.45 am IST.



Topics : Cricket Sreesanth
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