ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 18

Quest for another feather

By Harry Jayachandra

“I feel fine and I am looking forward to the Champions Trophy. I think my form is good. The break that we had was very refreshing. We have also worked very hard at practices and should be able to put up a good performance,” said veteran Sri Lankan opener Sanath Jayasuriya shortly before the team took wing to India – the host nation for this editions mini world cup.

Hugs for Chaminda Vaas and Kumar Sangakkara from their spouses prior to their departure for the Champions Trophy. ( Pix by Ranjith Perera)

Only the top eight nations according to the ICC’s one day rankings, are invited for this tournament. Since Sri Lanka were placed seventh at the time the draw took place, they are forced to qualify. As result the Lankans will face off against West Indies and Zimbabwe to book a place in the main tournament. As opposed to what most scribes wrote the whole team including the manager views these matches as ‘a blessing in disguise’.

Workhorse of the Sri Lankan bowling attack Chaminda Vaas said that he was accustomed to bowl in any conditions. As such the slower wickets in India would not make a difference. One major plus point for the Lankans is the return of former captain Marvan Atapattu. Atapattu has opened and also could bat in the middle for Sri Lanka in the shorter version of the game. “It is really good to be back after such a long time. I do not have a problem in opening or batting in the middle. The requirements of the team come first for me,” said Atapattu.

Mahela Jayawardene once again is at the helm of the team. “The mood in the team is very good. All the guys are one hundred per cent fit. The break that we had gave us time to prepare well for this tournament. We have worked on different approaches and strategies. Now it is a question of executing them to perfection in the middle. We are not taking the qualifying games lightly. The team wants to hit the standard we have set for ourselves from the first game,” said Jayawardene. He added that it was a big bonus to have Atapattu back. Jayawardene said; “Marvan brings a lot of experience. Since he can bat anywhere gives us more options. If you saw the way he batted in the practice games you would not have believed that he had been away from the game for so long.”

A piece of advice from skipper Mahela to ‘Pocket Rocket’ Malinga.

Coach Tom Moody takes his side to a country that humiliated the Lankans nearly one year ago. “It is more or less the same team. But they matured a lot for the past one year. More importantly they developed mentally and physically. The self belief that they can win away from home is there. Because the weather intervened in the tri series we had more time to prepare. This was also beneficial to the players because they had played a lot of cricket prior to the break. Obviously we have to take it one game at a time. But if we can execute what we have planned, then it would not surprise me to see Sri Lanka competing in the closing stages of the tournament,” said Moody.

Speculation has been rife that Tom Moody is the number one candidate to take over from John Buchanan as the coach of Australia following the 2007 World Cup. When questioned Moody said; “Look there is always talk when a coaching vacancy opens up. I have given no thought to it. Right now my focus is only on the Champions Trophy. And for the record nobody has made contact with me with regard to Buchanan’s replacement.”

The Team: Mahela Jayawardene (Captain), Kumar Sangakkara (Vice Captain), Sanath Jayasuriya, Marvan Atapattu, Upul Tharanga, Thillekeratne Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedera. Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralitharan, Malinga Bandara, Ruchira Perera, Farveez Maharoof, Lasith Malinga and Dilhara Fernando.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.