Former champion Sri Lanka is seeking to secure passage into the limited-overs ICC Champions Trophy with a victory Tuesday against minnow Zimbabwe, but captain Mahela Jayawardene says he is eager to advance from the qualifying competition with an all-win record.
"Our aim is to win all three qualifying matches and only then think of the next stage," Jayawardene told reporters Monday, ahead of the game at Ahmadabad's Motera Stadium against Zimbabwe, which was skittled out for 85 in its first outing by the West Indies. Sri Lanka defeated Bangladesh by 37 runs Saturday in the opening fixture of the round-robin qualifying competition from which the top two teams will advance to the main round of the Champions Trophy beginning October 17.
Zimbabwe lost its first match Sunday to title holder West Indies by nine wickets.
Defending champion West Indies and Sri Lanka are playing in the qualifying event as they did not feature among the top-six nations in world rankings that were given direct entry.
"We'll be taking the game against Zimbabwe as seriously as the next one against the West Indies," said Jayawardene. "Zimbabwe's not going to be rolled over as badly as they were against the Windies."
Sri Lanka's Australian coach, Tom Moody, said he'd told the players to maintain the intensity irrespective of the opposition they were pitted against.
"Whether Zimbabwe has world class players in its side or not is not relevant," said Moody. "If any team thinks it can come into a match with a foot off the gas and not quite switched on it can be in for a rude shock."
"When we've achieved our goal of winning all three matches in the qualifying stage, we'll reassess our targets," he said. Sri Lanka, joint winner of the 2002 Champions Trophy, entered the current competition after a 5-0 victory against England, seeking to wipe out the unpleasant memories of its poor showing on its last visit to India. India outplayed Sri Lanka 6-1 in one-dayers last year.
"There's just no comparison between the Sri Lankan team of a year ago and now, although the personnel are pretty similar," said Moody.
"The youngsters have a year of experience in international cricket, they've developed technically, physically and mentally," he said.
Zimbabwe coach Kevin Curran said he was hopeful of an improved show from his young side.
"We didn't get our basics right in the last match, we've discussed the issue and are trying to address certain areas of our game," Curran said.
"I'm hopeful of a much better display from my young and inexperienced side," he said.
History doesn't favor Zimbabwe, which hasn't won a single game in four previous editions of this competition.
Zimbabwe goes into the game against Sri Lanka having lost all seven matches in the biennial Champions Trophy.