Australia v Sri Lanka, CB Series, Melbourne

Sri Lanka hopeful of beating injury woes

Brydon Coverdale at the MCG

March 2, 2012

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Thisara Perera goes down with an injury, Australia v Sri Lanka, CB series, Melbourne, March 2, 2012
Mahela Jayawardene is more certain of Farveez Maharoof and Angelo Mathews' chances of playing the finals, than Thisara Perera's © Getty Images
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Mahela Jayawardene is hopeful that Angelo Mathews and Farveez Maharoof will be fit for Sunday's first final against Australia, but Thisara Perera's chances of playing are less certain. Sri Lanka qualified for the best-of-three finals series thanks to their nine-run win over Australia at the MCG, a victory that was all the more impressive because they lost both Perera and Mathews during Australia's chase.

Perera went off with a back problem after bowling only five deliveries and Mathews sent down four overs before he was forced off with a calf injury, which left Jayawardene juggling part-timers to make up the overs. They were already without Maharoof due to a back complaint, and the medical staff will need to work quickly to assess the three men with only one day off before the first final in Brisbane.

"Hopefully Angelo is not too serious," Jayawardene. "He bowled and then went off with a slight strain. Hopefully he should be okay. Thisara, I'm not sure exactly how bad the situation is. Maharoof, they're saying he can probably play in the first final. If not we'll have to try to see the flight details and bring a couple of guys to Brisbane.

"We're not sure if [Perera's injury] is muscle or something worse, we need to get an MRI and see that. Maharoof had a facet joint problem in the back. He had an injection a couple of days ago and he looks pretty good, but he hasn't bowled yet so we need to see how he bowls and whether he feels good in Brisbane."

Sri Lanka had to win at the MCG to qualify for the finals and it was to their credit that they did not lose heart as the injuries mounted and as David Hussey dragged Australia into a winning position. Jayawardene was full of praise for his attack, especially Lasith Malinga, who collected 4 for 49 and made up for giving away nearly a hundred runs in Tuesday's loss to India in Hobart.

"He's a class act and he's got a lot of confidence in him," Jayawardene said. "He doesn't leave anything out there, he gives everything. That day it wasn't quite enough, Virat [Kohli] had a great knock. Today he came back strongly, and not just him - Nuwan [Kulasekara], Rangana [Herath], everybody. Especially when we had two bowlers down the guys that were there picked themselves up and created opportunities. I can't praise them enough for their effort."

Sri Lanka will enter the finals knowing they have beaten Australia in their past three encounters, and confident that they can continue their good form. Sri Lanka won the last one-day series they played in Australia, a bilateral three-match series in 2010-11, but if they are triumphant in this tournament it would be their first tri-series title in Australia.

"We've played some really good cricket," Jayawardene said. "We just need to continue to do that. But it's a best of three finals. I'm sure the Australians will come really hard at us. We just have to make sure that we play the kind of cricket we've been playing and try to improve on that."

Edited by Siddarth Ravindran

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
Tournament Results
Australia v Sri Lanka at Adelaide - Mar 8, 2012
Australia won by 16 runs
Australia v Sri Lanka at Adelaide - Mar 6, 2012
Sri Lanka won by 8 wickets (with 34 balls remaining)
Australia v Sri Lanka at Brisbane - Mar 4, 2012
Australia won by 15 runs
Australia v Sri Lanka at Melbourne - Mar 2, 2012
Sri Lanka won by 9 runs
India v Sri Lanka at Hobart - Feb 28, 2012
India won by 7 wickets (with 80 balls remaining)
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