finale before final
Overflowing stadium for Sri Lanka-Australia
battle of the giants
By Marlon Fernandopulle
The Battle lines are drawn and the stage is set for a clash that
has been on the lips and minds of all cricket crazy Sri Lankans.
Australia versus Sri Lanka, It may not be the final, but the ICC
Champions trophy semi final between the current World Champions
and the host country has generated tremendous enthusiasm and interest
among the locals.
The fiasco that
unfolded in the 1995 boxing day test at the Melbourne Cricket ground
involving Muttiah Muralitharan and Umpire Darell Hair,the refusal
of Australia to honour their World Cup game in 1996, the subsequent
thrashing Australia received in the 1996 World Cup final and the
onfield confrontations between Arjuna Rantunge and Shane Warne are
some of the incidents that have led to the building up of animosity
and a huge interest between these two great one day teams.
With all tickets
sold out the Premadasa Stadium is expected to be bursting at it's
seams on Friday as the 30-35,000 capacity crowd cheer the Lankans
in a bid to knock the Aussies out of the Championship.
play their cricket very hard and are currently in top gear. They
thrashed the defending champs New Zealand by 164 runs and trounced
Bangladesh by 9 wickets to set up the semi final clash against Sri
Kangaroos are aware that the semi final is going to be something
different. "Sri Lanka play very well in these conditions and
will enjoy playing in front of a big home crowd. We have to be on
top of our game if we are to be competitive", noted captain
Ricky Ponting who along with his team mates flew to the Maldives
soon after their game against Bangladesh on Thursday.
was also of the view that his team generally performs quite well
after a rest, hence the team opted for a rest in the Maldives. Like
the Australians the Lankans also enjoyed a cakewalk in the preliminary
round defeating Pakistan and Holland with ease.
Ricky Pontings Australians the Lankans are aware that they will
have to put their best foot forward if they are to get the better
of the World Champions. They will font up to an accurate and penetrative
pace attack comprising Glen Mcgrath, Jason Gillespie and Bret Lee.
always has been Australia's key strike bowler. The tall right arm
medium pacer who picked up his 250 th one day wicket during the
tournament has a unique ability to consistently pitch the ball on
the corriodor of uncertainity and trouble the batters.
the unpredictable Jason Gillespie and speedster Brett Lee the Aussies
pace trio will be gunning for Sri Lanka's top order of Sanath Jayasuriya
and company. On the other hand the Lankans will be looking to their
skipper Sanath Jayasuriya who is in good nick to blunt the Aussies
pace trio. Jayasuriya, may not have the perfect technique to counter
the Aussies paceman,but the left hander has the reputation of destroying
acclaimed attacks on his day with his devastating strokes.
Marvan Atapattu and veteran Aravinda de Silva who are technically
sound players together with Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene
and Russell Arnold will have to shoulder the batting for the Lankans.
It will undoubtedly
be a testing time especially for the Lankan top order of Jayasuriya,
Atapattu, Sangakkara and De Silva against the renowned Aussies pace
trio. They should be looking to survive the initial overs and frustrate
the medium pacers who very often make inroads early in the innings.
signs that the wicket at the Premadasa Stadium is becoming drier
and more and more condusive to spin the Lankans may include off
spinner Kumar Dharmasena(at the expense of Upul Chandana) as well
in their starting line up.
also has the ability to bowl inside the 15 overs will be a handful
against the Aussies who have an inherent weakness against the slow
spinner Muttah Muralitharan who loves to play against the Aussies
will be Sri Lankas' trumph card as the Islanders plan to choke the
strong Aussies batting line-up with their spinners.With Jaysuriya
and Aravinda de Silva able to add variety to the attack the Aussies
are certain to be caught in a spin on a dusty turning track.
Man to man the
Aussies have everything to match the Lankans. A strong and dependable
batting line up, an explosive opener, a world class spinner, a lethal
pace attack backed up by a brilliant fielding side.
The only factor
that will go against the Kangaroos would be the dry, grassless Premadasa
wicket and the large support from the home crowd. However in a one
day game of this nature anything could happen although the scales
are slightly tilted in favour of the host nation.
The sounds of
beating drums and blowing trumphets together with the cheering and
jeering from the thousands of spectators will be the order of the
day when Sri Lanka and Australia, two of the best one day teams
in the world battle it out under floodlights for a place in the
ICC Champions trophy final.
problems with the team says Pakistan Manager
By Bernie Wijesekera
"Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties. There is no difference
among the players. They are well-knit. Our batting failed to live
upto expectations in the first match against Sri Lanka. It was one
of the rare days," said Manager Saeed, in an interview with
The Sunday Times, whilst the team was practising at the NCC grounds,
on September 19.
" You can
see to yourself, how they are training. This could happen to any
team. In an overs game when you fall into a rut, it's doubly difficult
to get back." The
team missed the services of Inzamam ul Haq. He could have torn any
attack apart when on the move. He was sidelined due to a heel injury.
Haq will return home for an operation and will miss the test series
against Australia. The first test match will be played here on October
3, at the P. Sara Stadium.
afloat that some key players want to pull out before the Aussie
test. Nonsense. Only Wasim Akram has asked permission to lay off
due to fatigue as he needs a rest. Wasim has done yeoman service
for Pakistan cricket, as a great bowling all-rounder. The PCB, has
agreed to his request. There is a heavy calendar ahead besides the
two-test series against Australia.
witnessed the stupendous performance of Wasim in the '92 World Cup
Final against England at the MCG (Australia). The team led by Imran
Khan won the final match, thanks to Wasim when he broke through
the English middle order when the game was slipping away.
There are two
full tours to Zimbabwe and S. Africa, before the World Cup in S.
Africa in February 2003. Don't you think Pakistan has a better variety
in their armour than many other countries to exploit the conditions?
like to play hard, always prefer to play against stiff opposition.
The players will give of their best, said skipper Waqar Younis who
was fit and strong after a gruelling practice session. Will give
the Aussies a good run here. The boys are determined. Special emphasis
was paid by Physio Dennis John Michael Wright to fielding.
opener Saeed Anver was seen running like a hare, while strongly
built 'Rawalpindi Express' Shoaib Akthar was a picture of himself
despite working in humid conditions.
The attack looks
good even without Akram-Waqar, Akthar, Abdur Razzaq, Azhar Mahmud,
joined by spinners Saqlain Mustaq, Afridi etc. Much will depend
on how well the batsmen apply themselves with better application
and concentration. The Aussie look a well-knit all round side and
are top of the world in the established ladder, too. They have the
edge in batting.
- India grudge match today
With the ICC Champions Trophy tournament rushing headlong towards
its final stages, the focus of attention will undoubtedly shift
to today's, England Vs India game and then, five day's later, to
the greatest of all one day battles - Sri Lanka Vs Australia.
team, this will be a grudge match: a repeat of that Lord's final
in July when the team ran up a massive 326 only to have the smile
of smug satisfaction erased from their faces consequent to a charmingly
aggressive charge by India's youth brigade represented by Yuvaraj
and Kaif. That defeat would have taken some time to live down, as
England and her multitude of fans and spectators must have thought
(even as I did) that having disposed of Ganguly, Tendulkar, Dravid
and Sehwag, it was all over bar the shouting. Subsequent events
showed over thoughts and predictions to be wide off the mark.
One way of assessing
relative merits and strength is to see how teams have fared against
a common foe. By that token the Englishman are ahead on points.
Led by Hussain and Trescothick, the Englishmen batted splendidly
to post the second highest total upto now. Then the irresistible
Hoggard and the under-valued Irani cut a swathe through the Zimbabwean
A late spurt
by skipper Streak, largely at the expense of debutante Blackwell,
could but put a slight glass on the African nation's performance.
India, by contrast, had a devil of a time putting the upstarts in
their place. Kaif shone once more making his first ODI hundred.
However the wily flower (Andy of course) reprieved early on by a
causal Nehra took the fight to the Indians with a masterful 145,
as India barely came through.
by virtue of its long and distinguished line up of batters has the
edge over England. The latter's batting is too reliant on a few
players. To add to their woes Nick Knight touted as top-class one
day player, seems to have lost his striking ability.
Kumble and Harbhajan
are streets ahead of Snap and Blackwell and, on a slow turner, they
could be the ones to perform. England's fielding all round is probably
the smarter but in a 'mind-game' the Flectcher Hussain combination
could upstage Wright and Ganguly working in tandem.
at Royal Assembly
Evergreen Eddie I. Gray, old Royalist and Olympic boxer is here
again on a short holiday from Melbourne, Australia. Gray was invited
by the present Principal of Royal, Lakshman Gomes, to address the
students at an assembly at the College Hall, on September 18 before
the start of the school sessions.
Eddie had many
first on and off the field for his Alma Mater as a versatile sportsman,
administrator. He was the President of the ABA, Secretary of the
NOC and a referee-cum-judge (AIBA).
Royal in 1928 as a first former said, " if I have achieved
something in life today - I owe to my parents, my school and teachers.
Thirdly, my country - Sri Lanka. I am an ardent old Royalist until
my last breath. It was at Royal I made my mark as a sportsman, that
paved the way to stardom."
He told the
young audience to respect the teachers, elders and adhere to the
rules at all times, be it on and off the field. In the past Royal
has made a name in any walk of life. In the 1948 Olympics The National
team had three Royalists for the Wembley Olympics - late Alex Obeysekera,
John de Saram and myself. It was at these games that late Duncan
White won a "Silver" for the country. - B.W.