Tom Moody, Sri Lanka's coach, believes that Sri Lanka have the ingredients to win the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean if the senior players step up to it.
Speaking to the media after Sri Lanka's five-wicket loss to South Africa in their crucial VB Series match at Perth yesterday, Moody said: "For us to win the World Cup, which I believe we are capable of doing, we've got another year to develop as a team and learn as a team. We need the senior players that are on this tour firing on all cylinders. There's no question about that."
Moody cited Sanath Jayasuriya, Marvan Atapattu and Chaminda Vaas as key to Sri Lanka's hopes of success. Jayasuriya, 36, proved his worth to the side since returning from injury, belting 114 against Australia at Sydney last week and hitting 86 from 65 deliveries yesterday. "Jayasuriya ... we've seen how valuable he is," Moody said. "Marvan, he's a valuable player to us anywhere in the order, and Vaas is still quality with the new ball. They're all very important."
But Moody also said Sri Lanka had a growing store of young talent who would have benefited greatly from the experience of playing in Australia. "We've got a lot of young faces here. I think they've done pretty well to be honest with you," he said. "Its a tough introduction to international cricket -- the series in Australia. I think (Jehan) Mubarak at the top of the order has played well and he will learn an enormous amount from this experience."
"Nuwan Kulasekara is very young as well and he's only going to get better. He's just come back from stress fractures six months ago so he's not bowling the pace he would normally bowl," Moody added. "Upul Tharanga, who hasn't played a lot, has also impressed. He's got two international hundreds at the age of 20. Its going to be a great experience for these players and hopefully they'll learn a lot from their time down here."
However, Moody also admitted Sri Lanka would need to rely on Australia to beat South Africa twice in the coming days if his team is to progress to the best-of-three finals. "We need Australia to do the business against South Africa," he said.
Australia play South Africa in Melbourne on Friday and in Sydney next Sunday while Sri Lanka meet South Africa in the final qualifying match in Hobart on February 7.