Saturday, October 07, 2006

Sri Lanka stretched their legs today, easing to a 37 run victory over Bangladesh in the first ICC qualifier.


The Sri-Lankans, back under the captaincy of Marvin Attapattu, were never pressured by the Banglesdeshi bowlers. All of the top six batsmen made quick runs with Upul Tharanga keeping up his good form with a dazzling 105. The men from Ceylon will need to hit the ground running in order to lift the trophy and today will have served as a good aclimatiser for the real action ahead.
Providing the Windies don't slip up against Bangladesh or Zimbabwe, the winner of their match with Sri-Lanka will get the easiest run in the group stages, the loser facing the Aussies and home side India.
Sri-Lanka's bowlers did not fare as well as will be needed if they are to lift the trophy however. The usually miserly Muralitharan went for 45 runs off his 10 overs, perhaps a sign the Bangladeshi batsmen are improving, however none were good enough to score the runs needed at sufficient pace.
If Sri Lanka beat the Windies, they will need to press home the advantage of match practice against a rusty New Zealand, an Imzaman-less Pakistan that no-one wants to captain and a South Africa that has warmed up against a poor Zimbabwe in alien conditions.
Over in England's group Duncan Fletcher has hinted he might have some tricks up his sleeve for the Aussies. In the 2004 trophy Micheal Vaughan surprised them by bowling 10 economical overs of his off-spin and taking 2 wickets. What will the plan be this time? Will Kevin Pietersen take the ball against Ponting's men?

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