ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Sri Lanka v Canada, World Cup 2011, Hambantota

Sri Lanka open against sparky minnows

The Preview by Sahil Dutta

February 19, 2011

Comments: 25 | Text size: A | A

Match Facts

February 20, Hambantota
Start time 14:30 local time (09:00 GMT)

Canada captain Ashish Bagai practices his big hitting ahead of Canada's opening game against Sri Lanka, Hambantota, February 19, 2011
Ashish Bagai and his side can prove Associates have a role in World Cups with a good showing against Sri Lanka © AFP
Related Links
Players/Officials: Angelo Mathews | Rizwan Cheema
Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup
Teams: Canada | Sri Lanka

Big Picture

Sri Lanka begin their World Cup campaign - the first in Asia since they stunned the world 16 years ago - against Group A minnows Canada. With a team forged around much of the same group of players that made it to the final in the Caribbean last time around, Sri Lanka start as one of the tournament's fancied sides. Canada - a team of immigrants, expats and five home-grown former Under-19 stars - have had a good run in the warm-up against Netherlands and England but will need a World Cup miracle to beat Kumar Sangakkara's side.

Sri Lanka's home record is imposing but the surroundings of Hambantota are almost as unfamiliar to them as they are to the visitors. A new pitch at a new stadium, the captains have been keen to praise the look of both. The state of pitches at this tournament is already shaping up into a bone of contention, and set against the fiasco at Eden Gardens, the Sri Lankan board should be credited for getting the stadium ready in time.

The last time these two met in the World Cup, Canada slumped to the lowest World Cup score in history. The entire cricketing infrastructure in Canada has improved since then, with players centrally contracted for the first time and big sponsors like Reebok jumping on board. Upsets have been hard-wired out of the format for this World Cup, and with the ICC taking it a step further next time by expelling Associate nations altogether, a competitive show from Canada would do wonders to the minnows' case for inclusion.

Form guide

(Most recent first)

Sri Lanka: WWLWW
Canada: LWWWL

Pitch and conditions

The Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium has not yet hosted a full international match so the pitch in Hambantota is something of an unknown quantity. There were concerns when the pitch produced a low-scoring 'A' match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, but at the time the curator insisted his pitch was not to blame. After practicing at the ground Sangakkara was happy, saying "the wicket looked fantastic and the conditions were beautiful for cricket". The Sri Lankan weather has been anything but for recent series and there were a few clouds circling on the eve of the game, which could mean an early outing for Duckworth and Lewis, in their fourth World Cup.

Watch out for…

There is still something about the 50-over format that promotes unqualified utility players, who are unable to hold their place in either discipline. England have Luke Wright, while Australia have John Hastings. Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews is the model the rest are chasing. In the last 12 months Mathews has averaged 54.50 with the bat, 32.90 with the ball, and has been a lynchpin behind the celebrated duo of Sangakkara and Mehela Jayawardene.

After his exploits against England, there is one Canadian that everyone will be looking out for: Gun batsman Rizwan Cheema. The Pakistan-born's ODI strike-rate of 119.4 beats even Shahid Afridi for crazed slugging. Faced with Lasith Malinga's slingers and Muttiah Muralitharan his task is less than straightforward, but alongside the youngsters in the side and captain Ashish Bagai, he could be the prime contributor of runs.

Team news

Sri Lanka's top-order is settled and the only contention is over the last bowling place. Ajantha Mendis' star has faded as his mystery unravelled with exposure so he competes with the Rangana Herath for the second spinner's role. If the damp conditions prompt another paceman, however, Thisara Perera might come up on the blindside to take the final bowling spot.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (capt & wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Chamara Kapugedera, 6 Thilan Samaraweera, 7 Angelo Mathews, 8 Dilhara Fernando, 9 Rangana Herath, 10 Muttiah Muralitharan, 11 Lasith Malinga

Canada have banked on their youngsters to support their array of more experience imports and will be hoping Hiral Patel and Nitish Kumar can come good.

Canada (probable): 1 John Davison, 2 Hiral Patel, 3 Nitish Kumar, 4 Ashish Bagai (capt & wk), 5 Jimmy Hansra, 6 Rizwan Cheema, 7 Zubin Surkari, 8 Khurram Chohan, 9 Balaji Rao, 10 Henry Osinde, 11 Harvir Baidwan

Try picking the XIs for tomorrow's game by playing Team Selector.

Stats and trivia

  • The last time these teams met at the World Cup, Canada were bowled out for 36 and swept aside by nine wickets in a match that lasted a mere 23.2 overs - the quickest in World Cup history.

  • Since making successive hundreds against Pakistan and Bangladesh in Karachi in June 2008, Kumar Sangakkara has played 59 matches, and made 1970 runs at 37.16, without ever passing three figures.

  • Canada's opening batsman, and producer of one of World Cup cricket's most dazzling centuries - John Davison - is, at 40, the oldest player in the tournament.


    "Hard-hitting. I like to hit the ball... Out of the park"
    Rizwan Cheema gives a description, and warning, about the kind of player he is

    "You can't change what other people say about us whether they say that we are good enough to win the tournament or whatever."
    Kumar Sangakkara doesn't like the 'favourites' tag.

Sahil Dutta is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 25 
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Posted by Hasan on (February 20, 2011, 8:06 GMT)

one batsmen doesn't make all the difference so i feel that because of the strength of sri lankas batsmen they will win, it would take a miracle for canada to win.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 20, 2011, 7:38 GMT)

wateevr game wud be finished by 8 as today ken-nz game was finished in 3 hrs amazing how these minnows are playin.......badly these matches are xtremely boring

Posted by MAPR on (February 20, 2011, 7:34 GMT)

Wow this may be a thriller.. May Sri-Lanka target for 450 runs... They will easily win this as the last time they encountered.

Posted by Satishkumar on (February 20, 2011, 5:50 GMT)

Hope the right side is picked even against a weaker side like Canada. Also hope the captain and the management understands the real weaker links in the SL team. To build the momentum for the bigger games winning comfortably is crucial. Good Luck Sri Lanka.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 20, 2011, 5:34 GMT)

Canada team has been supported to playb good cricket and represent the country with honour and pride. Canada is a global village and a great experiment in the making. Everywhere we go, we find ourselves among our own.

Criket Sri Lanka has been a great supporter of Cricket Canada and we thank them for their hospitality and affection. It is an honour to play against them in the CWC. Wec are delighted to be doing this in Sri Lanka itself.

Go Cricket Go Canada

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 20, 2011, 5:32 GMT)

Guys, dont think canada is a minnow. It is having a strong batting line up where they can score upto 250+ I think today they will prove their best. Also the coach is belongs to Sri Lanka so he may know the situation of the pitch and other conditions. My opinion is if canada bowl first they will try to restrict the opponent within 300 and I am sure they will try to chase. " Let wait & see"

Posted by Sharjeel on (February 20, 2011, 5:19 GMT)

Best of Luck Folks. Support from Australia. Cheers

Posted by Wachucha on (February 20, 2011, 4:59 GMT)

Canadiens could be dangerous if SriLanka is complecent. They gave a real scare to England. Most of their players know the subcontinental playing conditions. It will be either a thriller or another one sided match like last time.

Posted by Madusha on (February 20, 2011, 4:18 GMT)

I really need srilanka to bat first ,otherwise it will be a low scoring encounter alltogether,same as the last time these teams met at the World Cup, .....

Posted by Menuka on (February 20, 2011, 4:02 GMT)

Kule will open the bowling with Malinga and I think Mendis will have a handful as Canadians hasn't played him much. Hope we wins the toss and bats in order to get some valuable batting practice. All the best to u guys... GO LIONS....

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Sahil DuttaClose
Sahil Dutta Assistant editor Sahil Dutta grew up supporting England during the 90s. Despite this, he still enjoys the game. His unrequited passions for Graeme Hick and, in latter years, Vikram Solanki gave him a stoicism that guided him through an Economics degree and a stint working at the European Parliament. He maintains the purest love for Tests and the whims of legspin bowling and still harbours hope that he could be the answer to England's long search for a mystery spinner. As it is, his most exciting cricketing experience was planning a trip to Australia for the 2006-07 Ashes with two utterly indifferent friends. Unfortunately his lung collapsed shortly before his planned departure and the pair were left to wander around from Test to Test, unprepared and clueless. Any comparisons with England are far too obvious to make. That cancelled holiday inspired an Ashes blog which led, via some tea-making at the Wisden Cricketer, to the ESPNcricinfo towers.
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