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Sri Lanka's last chance to iron out rough edges

india Updated: Mar 16, 2011 02:13 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni

Pre-tournament favourite Sri Lanka may have qualified for the knock out stage without much ado but Kumar Sangakkara's boys haven't looked that menacing against the bigger sides.

Many misfires
The 1996 world champions breezed past the minnows thanks to superb tons by the top order batsmen and a certain Lasith Malinga running through the oppositions batting. But the team's frailties were exposed against Pakistan when the top order misfired and Malinga failed the fitness test just before the match.

The islanders will get one final chance to iron out their problems before the business end of the tournament and the one man Sangakkara would love to see hit his best form is all rounder Angelo Mathews.

The 23-year-old has managed just 35 runs in three innings so far and there has been nothing much to write home about in the bowling department as well.

"I know I can play a very important role in our team. I can provide the balance (to the team) as an extra batsman and bowler," Mathews told reporters after the Lankans held their first practice session in Mumbai ahead of their last group encounter against New Zealand on Friday.

The Black Caps are in fine form in this tournament and their extremely devastating middle order has shown that it can tear apart any bowling attack, while their bowlers have always managed early breakthroughs except for the game against Australia.

Mathews factor
If that happens again, the Sri Lankans would not only need Mathews' big hitting prowess in the late overs but also his ability to pick up wickets in the powerplays.

However, Mathews is not worried about the team's form saying the top order was in good form and he would be happy if he is not needed to contribute as that means that they will be winning all their matches.

"I would prefer to make those valuable 15-20 runs or take a key wicket to help Sri Lanka win rather than play big innings."

"But I will be ready to take on any responsibility given by the team," he added.

'Why in mumbai?'
PTI adds:
While Sangakkara had expressed his displeasure in playing a group stage match away from home, Mathews isn't bothered. "It's not a big deal. The conditions are similar to Sri Lanka. We have also played in India often," he said.
Earlier Sangkkara had said: "We were surprised when we learnt that we will have to travel to Mumbai. Ithought hosts play at home."