Pakistan grapple with Sri Lanka M-factor

Updated: 24 February 2011 11:42 IST

Pakistan will look to blunt Lasith Malinga and wily off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan in their Group A encounter against Sri Lanka on Saturday, with captain Shahid Afridi confident of a win.

Pakistan grapple with Sri Lanka M-factor
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Colombo:

Pakistan will look to blunt Lasith Malinga and wily off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan in their Group A encounter against Sri Lanka on Saturday, with captain Shahid Afridi confident of a win.

Co-hosts Sri Lanka, champions in 1996, and 1992 winners Pakistan are off to flying starts in the tournament with convincing wins against minnows Canada and Kenya, and are primed for their first big match.

"I am confident that we are up to the Sri Lankan challenge and ready for anything they throw at us, whether its Malinga or Muralitharan," said Afridi.

Muralitharan, who has a world record 521 wickets in 342 one-day internationals, has a tally of 95 against Pakistan in 64 matches, and is even more dangerous in home conditions.

"In Sri Lankan conditions and pitches, he (Muralitharan) is always very dangerous and he could probably turn the ball on the marble as well. He has so much experience and knows conditions well and that's why he is the best," said Afridi.

Afridi said Malinga, renowned for his slingy action, would find it tough after missing the Canada match due to a back strain.

"Malinga is a very good bowler but he is coming back from an injury, so let's see how strong he is and how much he can adjust to the conditions," said Afridi.

Malinga has just ten wickets in nine matches against Pakistan including a best of 5-34.

Pakistan have also handled spinner Ajantha Mendis well. He has ten wickets against them in six matches.

Afridi hoped the sell-out match would be entertaining in a World Cup that needs a blockbuster clash between two of the big guns.

"It will be a good game. If we bowl well, bat well and go with positive body language and show more readiness for the game and willingness to win, I am sure we can pull it off," said Afridi.

Pakistan have never lost a World Cup match against Sri Lanka in six previous attempts but they were all before Sri Lanka became one of the top sides in the world game.

"The last match Sri Lanka played against us their fast bowlers did really well and they have a very good team combination. They've got good new guys in the side so we will have to play with our full strength and to win against them we need to give more than 100 percent effort," said Afridi.

Pakistan will look to improve on their starts -- both in batting and bowling -- at the match in Colombo.

"We are not short on motivation and our energy levels are good," said Afridi, looking to restrict the in-form Mahela Jayawardene, who scored a match-winning hundred during the team's 210-run win over Canada.

Besides Jayawardene, captain Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga are in good form with the bat.

Jayawardene acknowledged Pakistan were a dangerous side.

"They (Pakistan) are a very good side, so we look forward to playing Pakistan. The boys showed great attitude in the match against Canada," said Jayawardene.

Sri Lanka will likely bring Malinga into the side in place of Thisara Perera, who took three wickets in the Canada match.

Pakistan will try to squeeze in off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, who has not played since his father's death in January this year.

Topics : Cricket Muttiah Muralidaran New Zealand Pakistan ICC World Cup, 2011
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