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Jayawardene relishes Oz challenge

cricket Updated: Apr 15, 2007 20:35 IST

AFP
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Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene says his side's self-belief means they can do what no other team has managed since the 1999 World Cup - beat Australia.

The reigning champions, chasing an unprecedented third successive title, have gone 25 games unbeaten at the World Cup since losing to Pakistan at Headingley eight years ago, a sequence that includes their famous tied semi-final against South Africa in 1999.

Australia's nine-wicket thrashing of Ireland on Friday was their 19th straight World Cup win and meant they became the first team in the Caribbean to qualify for the semi-finals.

But Sri Lanka, despite being without injured fast bowler Lasith Malinga, beat fellow title contenders New Zealand by six wickets on Thursday and Jayawardene cannot wait for Monday's Super Eights fixture at the Grenada National Stadium.
"I think we have a very good record against them," said Jayawardene. "Why? Because we play our brand of cricket and we are not afraid of doing that."

Malinga, who had been the tournament's leading bowler until his injury with 15 wickets, turned his arm over in the nets on Saturday for 15 minutes before having his injured left ankle heavily strapped.

The 23-year-old, whose unorthodox action makes him difficult for batsmen to pick up, hasn't played against Australia and Jayawardene admitted there was a case for keeping him 'hidden' until a possible meeting with Ricky Ponting's side in either the semi-finals or final.