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The Preview by Sidharth Monga
September 28, 2012
Match factsSeptember 29, 2012
Sri Lanka and West Indies have hardly had highlight moments when playing each other. Their most talked-about match is actually one that didn't happen, when West Indies refused to tour during the 1996 World Cup. There is Viv Richards' 181 not out, there is Brian Lara's 169 and his superlative Test tour of Sri Lanka in 2001, there are Muttiah Muralitharan's exploits and Shivnarine Chanderpaul's finish with four and six, but you really have to strain the memory to come up with those.
A glorious rivalry is not about to start on Saturday, but they play a crucial Super Eights game, one that could possibly assure one of them a semi-final place. It is a crucial game for the sides for different reasons. Sri Lanka don't have a positive net run-rate after their Super Over win, and West Indies will not be playing the last game of their group, so neither side will want to get into a net run-rate situation. The team that loses, though, could find themselves in exactly that situation.
Form guide (completed matches, most recent first)Sri Lanka WLWLL
Watch out for
International cricket went about 36 years without finger-flickers after John Gleeson retired in the '70s, but on Saturday we will have two of that variety pitting their wits against each other: Ajantha Mendis and Sunil Narine. Both of them had an ordinary outings on the flat track in Pallekele. Mendis went for a career-worst 1 for 48, and Narine 0 for 33. They will both be itching to correct that record.
Lasith Malinga may not have taken a five-for or bowled wicket-maidens, but he made an impact at a time when most bowlers are looking for towels for their sweaty palms. His captain Mahela Jayawardene summed it up well after his Super Over: "Another day he might go for runs but you always back your ace bowler. It is good to have somebody who has control mentally over that situation. After that you try to execute your skills. It is important that you are tough in that situation and Mali is one of those guys."
Ajantha Mendis is yet to fully recover from his side strain. The other spinner they used in the previous game, Akila Dananjaya, is also in doubt after suffering a fracture on his left cheek bone. A decision on whether he will play is to be taken on Saturday. They might also need to look at whether they need an extra specialist batsman ahead of one of three allrounders, or even one of the specialist bowlers.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Mahela Jayawardene (capt.), 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Lahiru Thirimanne, 5 Jeevan Mendis, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Lasith Malinga, 10 and 11 Akila Dananjaya, Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath
The legspinner Samuel Badree slotted in nicely against England, and Andre Russell, who came into the XI in the match against Ireland, wasn't even called upon to bowl. Choosing between Russell and Fidel Edwards might be West Indies' only dilemma.
West Indies (probable) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Johnson Charles, 3 Marlon Samuels, 4 Dwayne Bravo, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Darren Sammy (capt), 7 Andre Russell/Fidel Edwards, 8 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Samuel Badree.
Pitch and conditions
Pallekele has provided the truest pitches in the tournament and consistent high scores. It has two more days to go through, and with a largish square available it should hold up. The rain and its imminent arrival remain a mystery after a seven-month dry period. The locals are expecting rain any minute, but the organisers will be hoping that any minute doesn't arrive until Monday.
Stats and trivia
"He bowled really well and came back even with a knock. Good that he got a game under the belt."
Mahela Jayawardene on Akila Dananjaya
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Sidharth Monga
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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But you can't expect a turnaround unless pitches, umpiring and practice facilities are simultaneously improved