ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Sri Lanka v Australia, Group B, World Cup 2011, Colombo
Sri Lanka may play three spinners
Sa'adi Thawfeeq in Colombo
March 4, 2011
Sri Lanka are toying with the idea of throwing in all three of their spinners into the XI for their match against Australia on Saturday, which is expected to see a full house of 35,000 spectators at the R Premadasa Stadium.
"That's a possibility that we're exploring," Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara said. "I think that's the best way to play Australia. We've got three main spinners and some part-time spinners in the squad. So we'll have to make a decision on that."
Sri Lanka has in their ranks the highest wicket-taker in ODI and Test cricket, the wily Muttiah Muralitharan, as well as unorthodox legspinner Ajantha Mendis and left-arm spinner Rangana Herath. They also have the spin options of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thilan Samaraweera, who bowl offbreaks, and Chamara Silva, who can chip in with some legbreaks.
Attacking Australia with spin is nothing new. In the Champions Trophy semi-final at the Premadasa in 2002, Sri Lanka threw in five spinners: Muralitharan, Kumar Dharmasena, Upul Chandana, Sanath Jayasuriya and Aravinda de Silva, and beat Australia by seven wickets.
While Sri Lanka's attack may be built around spin, Sangakkara is aware Australia will rely on their quicks. "The real strength of Australia is their pace attack. They've got four quality pace bowlers who are pretty quick. They probably will come at us very hard, right from ball one.
"If we can absorb the pressure and try to be as positive as we can, maybe we can capitalise when spin is introduced. But still, [Jason] Krejza is a very good spinner. He bowls an attacking line."
While there might be changes in Sri Lanka's bowling combination, Sangakkara said there would not be any changes in the middle order, which is considered the weak link of their team. "I don't think we need any drastic changes. When the middle order score runs, I don't think people will ask the same questions."
Chamara Silva replaced Chamara Kapugedera after Sri Lanka's first game, against Canada, and got a half-century in the match against Pakistan. Thilan Samaraweera and Angelo Mathews are yet to play a substantial knock in the competition.
The Premadasa pitch will be in focus once again for the Sri Lanka-Australia match. It was re-laid before the World Cup, and in three matches in the tournament so far, the ground has seen the team batting first win twice. Prior to being re-laid, the Premdasa had a reputation of being a ground where it was difficult to chase under lights - only three of the last 21 day-night matches there have been won by the team batting second. However, Sangakkara said he would not be too worried about the toss.
"The toss is a crucial factor no doubt, but you don't' have to worry about that too much. Most sides probably want to bat first and to put up a big total on this wicket. But the Premadasa has changed over the years and I think it's pretty well balanced, whether you're chasing or batting first.
We lost the game against Pakistan by some 10-odd runs. I think we could have got those 10 runs earlier on in the game. We lost four quick wickets and that was a big drawback. Having looked at the Pakistan game, it goes to show that whether you win or lose the toss, the real important thing is to win the match."
Lasith Malinga, the Sri Lanka fast bowler, missed the first two matches of the campaign, but returned for the third game and took 6 for 38 against Kenya. Sangakkara said he wanted Malinga to play in all the remaining games of the tournament.
"We want him to be as fit as he can be and play all our games. If he's available and ready to play he will play. When you have guys like Malinga, Mathews and Murali you expect them to deliver. You look up to your star bowlers and then the responsibility falls onto the support bowlers to do their bit. We'll try and focus on how we share that responsibility and give freedom to guys like Lasith to express themselves."