Sri Lanka and the Super 8’sHatem Rajabdeen |
Even though they have been beaten once in the tournament and our behind the unbeaten sides Australia and New Zealand in the Super Eight Table, Sri Lanka still look the team to beat.
Both Australia and New Zealand would want a psychological advantage over the Lankan Lions by winning their Super Eight game against them. This would give them a boost ahead of a possible meeting with the Lankans later in the the tournament.
The Lankans however have got other ideas. They started the tournament as one of the favourites and have kept that tag going even after the defeat to South Africa. The game was an absolute gem and was easily the best match of the World Cup to date.
The Lankan fight back in that game will never be forgotten. Lasith Malinga produced one of the greatest spells in the history of the one-day game which almost took the game away from the Proteas. Who knows with a little more aggressive captaincy Sri Lanka could still have got up there.
As the tournament progresses they seem to be the most suited team for the conditions. Their bowlers have adjusted brilliantly to the conditions in the West Indies and now with their batting shining they will be hard outfit to crack.
They produced their best overall performance in the game against the West Indies with Sanath Jayasuriya looking in great form.
The biggest sigh of relief to the Lankans would be the form of their skipper Mahela Jayawardena though. He played brilliantly and along with Jayausriya, they got Sri Lanka to 300 plus which gave their bowlers a good total to bowl with.
The much needed change with the introduction of Dilhara Fernando, Sri Lanka looked a more attacking bowling side, something they lacked for most parts of their game with South Africa. Fernando is a proven match winner and Tom Moody seems to have got rid of Fernando’s no ball syndrome which has dogged his career.
England will face a inform Sri Lankan side who will be looking to bury their semi final hopes. England have looked a very ordinary side and have struggled to bowl out the minnows in the tournament. Their margins of victory against Canada, Ireland and Kenya were not very convincing.
They have an offcolour top order which is under pressure to fire. Their hopes always revolve around Pieterson, Collingwood and Flintoff, which isn’t a good sign.
Michael Vaughan has been out of cricket for almost a year and walks straight into a side which had just won a one day tournament in Australia.
With Trescothick not in the side and lack of match practice for Vaughan, the England batting has been under severe preassure. Andrew Strauss has to come into this England line up for the rest of the critical games ahead. Excessive preassure can lead to the inform trio of Collingwood, Pieterson and Flintoff failing in the bigger games.
On current form it doesn’t look like the Englishmen will overcome Sri Lanka who are in top form.
With spinners Muralitharan and Jayasuriya bowling brilliantly to support their inform face attack, England will have to come up with a very good batting display to topple the Lankans.
The Lankans on the other hand are looking to bag as many wins as possible in order to finish either second or third which would mean avoiding Australia in the semi-finals.
Sri Lanka are playing some brilliant cricket at the moment. They are the only Asian hope in the tournament now and will have the entire subcontinent fans including Pakistan and India behind them. They will be a hard team to beat, but then again anything is possible in cricket.