Good start - keep going
In any race it is not the start that matters but the finish. This is more so when the race is long drawn out. Sri Lanka have so far collected full marks in the Asia Cup - the game against Bangladesh is in progress as I write.

At this stage they give the impression of being the best of the 6 teams. As expected Hong Kong and U.A.E have returned home after round one. It must be said that they did not let themselves or their supporters down. They played to their potential and at this point of their cricketing journey that is all they can do. Learn from the experience and pass on the lessons so learnt. Again, at this stage Bangladesh look very much to be team number four. Having watched them in part playing three games at the SSC grounds, most noticeably their fielding and agility around the field has improved heaps. Constant drilling helps to develop these areas.

Their bowling is woefully weak. Neither pace nor spin is even upto the high level of first class cricket, leave alone international cricket. Habib-ul-Basher, Mohamed Ashraful, Javed Omar, Khalid Mashud are batsmen who have scored against top class bowling. Yet they lag far behind in consistency. Pakistan have employed Bob Woolmer as their coach. What a 'Herculian' task lies ahead of him. They have reasonable experience and some talented young players. How do you get them to play and perform as a team?

To date only Imran Khan has been able to provide the answer. Can Woolmer produce the second coming. Time will tell. Their immediate task - beat India on Sunday. The Indians do not look like the same force that beat Pakistan in the one day and test series not too long ago. They attempted to set the wheels in motion in the game against Bangladesh, but would themselves know they have to raise their game heaps to reach the finals and then win it.

They are capable of doing it. All their senior players, Gangully, Tendulkar, Dravid, Kumble, Laxman are at the peak of their careers. Then the youngsters, Shewag, Yuvraj Singh, Kaif, Zaheer Khan, Nehra, Haribajan Singh, Balaji, Pathan and Patel ooze with talent and ability. So, cometh the hour, they sure can produce.

The home team is enjoying a good run. Their fielding has been excellent. Sangakkara behind the stumps, Dilshan, Upul Chandana within the thirty yard circle and Jayawardena close to the bat has stood out. Good fielding raises one day cricket teams to a higher plain.

Playing away from the sub continent a majority of the Sri Lankan batsmen fail to maintain consistency. Now in familiar conditions, after the tough Australian ordeal, they are like ducks in water. Avishka Gunawardena, Sangakkara and Jayawardena have impressed. Three of the top 6 batsmen in the order have to make big runs. Then the others contribute around them. The Sri Lankan batsmen have tons of experience. They must keep up the good work. This bowling attack is balanced. Three pacemen, two spinners and a couple of support men in Jayasuriya, and Dilshan. Ideal for these conditions. A balanced team.

Lady luck also looked at the team favourably. Reflect on the Shewag run-out. The Indian batsman seemed to be cruising home. Nuwan Zoysa's throw hits the edge of the turf and gathers momentum. Sangakkara decides not to touch the return, the ball hits the stumps and Shewag is gone! It must have even delighted "King Kashyapa!!"


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