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Sri Lanka To Cut Loose


Like all four major Test nations in Group A, Sri Lanka is on course to progress to the quarter-finals without any serious issues.

The chances of Zimbabwe pulling one over the co-hosts is unlikely- however rewind a week and the same was being said of Ireland.

The African side’s biggest challenge in their next game against Sri Lanka is simply batting the first 15 overs without giving away too many wickets, according to their captain earlier today.

"The biggest challenge is the first 15 overs," said Elton Chigumbura.

"We haven't done well so far. So obviously it is to go through the first 15 overs. The first 15 (overs) have been the most disappointing part for all our games we have played so far.

For Sri Lanka this is an ideal time to produce a commanding all-round performance and build momentum ahead of the quarter-finals.

The co-hosts have so far not shown the spark that led them to winning the title the last time the tournament was played in the sub-continent in 1996.

While easing past minnows Kenya and Zimbabwe, the 11-run loss against Pakistan highlights a team needing to play more ‘high level’ cricket.

One would imagine that Zimbabwe shouldn't provide many problems, having suffered a 10-wicket hammering at the hands of New Zealand in their last game. The African contingent has so far lacked consistency and will face a tough examination from Sri Lanka’s spinners.

Sri Lanka (possible) 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk) 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Thilan Samaraweera, 6 Chamara Silva, 7 Angelo Mathews, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Lasith Malinga, 10 Ajantha Mendis, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan

Zimbabwe (probable) 1 Brendan Taylor, 2 Charles Coventry, 3 Tatenda Taibu (wk), 4 Craig Ervine, 5 Elton Chigumbura (capt), 6 Regis Chakabva, 7 Greg Lamb, 8 Prosper Utseya, 9 Graeme Cremer, 10 Ray Price, 11 Chris Mpofu

When looking at Sri Lanka’s attack- look to Ajantha Mendis to do some damage here. Against lower-ranked opponents his variety of wrist and finger spin still proves challenging. He has only one wicket in the tournament so far, and will look to attack Zimbabwe’s middle and lower order.

On the batting end, the time has come for Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura to find some form and lead from the front. The captain has the talent to be a major run-scorer which is why his lean World Cup is such a frustration.

Chigumbura's team will face Sri Lanka's in-form fast bowler Lasith Malinga, who claimed six wickets including a hat-trick in the match against Kenya, and the game's most successful wicket-taker, spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.

"It is a big challenge. Most of their bowlers are match winners. So we have been working on our plan to see if we can keep our wickets in the first 15 overs," he commented.

Pallekelle will be staging its second ODI, following the match between Pakistan and New Zealand. The Black Caps had no issues on the batting front, and one would be hoping that a classic underdog tale might be on the cards. 

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