Can India stop Aussies?
Daminda Wijesuriya reporting from Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Australia has to maintain their good work they had in the last three months for just another day. India has to ignore looking at the winning machine and do the job. Both teams are only a hand's distance away from the glittering World Cup and the two million dollar prize money.

"We have done well so far, batting, bowling and fielding. So I don't think we need anything different tomorrow. We'll stick to the basics and focus on the job", said Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly yesterday. A lot will depend on Tendulkar's bat, which has fetched 669 runs in 10 innings of this World Cup and Brett Lee's wood seeking missiles, travelling at almost 100 miles an hour.

It is a question of how the two Indian openers are going to handle Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee in their first spells. India is playing a cricket World Cup final after 20 years and that means a lot for the people from the sub-continent. "When India won the World Cup in 1983 it inspired cricketers since then. We are now in a World Cup final and I hope we can repeat that performance. It's the last hurdle and I think if we can play the way we played, we are through. But obviously they are a tough side", said Ganguly. Australia is the only unbeaten team in the competition winning 10 out of 10 World Cup matches.

However India are not too far behind, having lost only to Australia in the first round. India came into the top gear after their humiliating nine wicket defeat at the hands of the Aussies. Since then the Asian giants went from strength to strength and no team could pose a barrier to them. Australia applies a fully professional attitude to the game.

Despite losing wickets early in the innings the defending champions maintain a healthy run rate and that had been a successful ploy for the Australian campaign so far. The Australians have been able to do so by the strong middle order and dependable all-rounders in the late order. On the other hand, it will be a disaster for them to make a mistake today, after doing everything right during the last ten weeks.

The nation from Down Under have not lost a single one-day international since they went down to Sri Lanka by 79 runs at Sydney on Jan 9, 2003. Hence the Australians are under more pressure than the Indians. Offering a life, at-least once, to any batsman in the Australian middle order could be considered as offering the World Cup to them on a plate of gold.

South Africa understood this four years ago at Manchester and Sri Lanka too were forced to realise this fact at Port Elizabeth after Kumar Sangakkara missed a stumping chance of Andrew Symonds. A similar mistake from India today, would make no change. In the event of Australia defending the World Cup they won four years ago, two million dollar prize money will be divided among the 15 players according to the seniority.

They are much happier to wear the tag of "underdogs." India had lost only two ODI series since the Natwest Triangular, last year in England. The two series they lost were the seven match series in India against West Indies (3-4) and another seven matches against New Zealand in New Zealand (2-5). Unlike in the first round match, India is a different kettle of fish today. The players are not prepared to face the same consequences again. Those incidents were real pinches for Ganguly and his men and they are more determined now.

Australia Squad: Ricky Ponting (Captain), Adam Gilchrist, Michael Bevan, Andy Bichel, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Darren Lehmann, Jimmy Maher, Damien Martin, Glenn McGrath, Andrew Symonds, Ian Harvey, Nathan bracken and Nathan Haurist.

India Squad: Sourav Ganguly (Captain), Rahul Dravid, Virender Shewag, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Harbajan Singh, Javagal Srinath, Zaeer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Dinesh Mongia, Parthiv Patel, Sanjay Banger, Ajith Agarkar, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif Umpires David Shepard (England) and Steve Bucknor (West Indies) Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka)

Sabaragamuwa RFC fight back to beat Panadura RFC to enter semis
By Bernie Wijesekera
After the scores were being dead-locked 5-all at half time, Sabaragamuwa RFC fought back well with grim determination to beat Panadura RFC by 12 points (a goal, a try) to 8 (a try, a penalty) in a Group A match in the Western Province RFU Under 24 rugby tournament sponsored by Hameedias for the Le Bond trophy played at Longdon Place yesterday.

With this win the entered the semi-finals. It was a keenly contested game between both teams. One team is from the coastal district where schoolboys from Panadura Royal were included, and the Sabaragamuwa team included most players from Kelani Valley.

The Panadura lads showed better rugby skills and were in the lead until midway in the second half. Sabaragamuwa scored a dandy try through a fine three quarter move to take the lead. Centre Asanka Lakmal receiving a pass from co-centre Danuska Nalin darted over to touch down under the posts. The try was converted by S. Malraj. Incidentally Lakmal was picked the player of the match.

The first try for the winners was off a scrum close to the line where number eight Tharaka Chandramal crashed over the line for an unconverted try. For Panadura RFC their solitary try was scored by Sameera Fernando, which went unconverted.
In the second half, Dilan Sanjeewa put over a penalty in front of the posts.

Referee: Irshad Ariff
The first match which was scheduled to be played between Tri-Star and CR & FC did not come off as Tri-Star failed to turn up for the game. Today's matches are the clashes between Kurunegala RFC and Old Zahirians and the CH & FC take on Air Force at the same venue.

Sanath resigns, but not out, says Minister
Sri Lanka's cricket captain Sanath Jaysuriya has submitted his resignation from the captaincy in the wake of country's mediocre performance in the World Cup, but the resignation is not being accepted, Sports Minister Johnston Fernando said last night.

Confirming reports that the superstar-batsman had submitted his resignation from the captaincy, Mr. Fernando said Sanath had the right to resign but the country also had the duty to ask him to stay on. The minister said the captaincy of the national Test and one-day squad was such a crucial job that much thinking and planning would be needed before selecting any new captain. Till then, he hoped Sanath would continue to serve the country.

Meanwhile, the selectors are due to meet today or tomorrow to pick the Sri Lankan squad for next month's Sharjah triangular with South Africa and Pakistan. The meeting comes amidst widespread speculation that frontline batsmen Mahela Jayawardena and Russel Arnold who hit a disastrous patch at the World Cup would be dropped from the squad.

Reports also indicated that specialist wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardena might be recalled in view of Kumar Sangakkara's costly lapses behind the stumps. But Sangakkara is likely to be retained as a batsman. Sanath Jayasuriya had indicated over the past few days that he was thinking of giving up the captaincy though he might stay on as a player. Sri Lanka's other veteran Aravinda de Silva also announced his retirement after the country's semi-final defeat against Australia.

The minister's refusal to accept Sanath's resignation came after the popular captain told state TV last night that he had quit as captain. "I have tendered my resignation to the minister. With my decision I have given the selectors to opt for a new captain with the 2007 world cup in mind," Sanath said. Sanath had taken over the helm of the Sri Lankan team after its disastrous show in the 1999 World Cup, held in England.

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