Sri Lanka Must Put Pressure on Aussies

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID LLOYD

SRI LANKA were under pressure today to prove that the eighth World Cup is not a one-horse race already.

Sanath Jayasuriya's unpredictable team looked anything but champion material when they lost to Kenya last week, yet they still managed to finish top of Group B and should reach the semi-finals.

But a tournament already awarded to Australia by an overwhelming majority of pundits and punters urgently needed Sri Lanka to put up a good show here against the holders and hot favourites.

The Super Sixes are in danger of becoming the Stupor Sixes unless drama comes thick and fast.

No one should try to devalue Kenya's achievement in beating Sri Lanka and it certainly was not their fault they were gifted a group victory and four 'carry through' points as a consequence of New Zealand's refusal to play in Nairobi because of safety fears.

But there must be something wrong with the competition's rules when a side with one significant win could lose all three of their second-phase matches by a country mile and still make the last four.

Sri Lanka coach Dav Whatmore is by no means alone in thinking the regulations should be examined once this controversial tournament is over.

Happily, though, cricket seldom follows an entirely predictable pattern and a at Centurion Park few cracking contests would save the Super Sixes from becoming a dreary procession achieving nothing more than eliminating back-markers Zimbabwe and New Zealand.

Recent history suggests that if anyone can beat Australia, then Sri Lanka are the boys.

They played hopelessly Down Under either side of Christmas yet still managed to inflict one defeat on the world champions.

A few days after being bowled out for 65 by Australia's second team, Sri Lanka suddenly burst into life in Sydney by making an astonishing 343 for five against the real thing with centuries from Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu. …