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Ready for Lanka test

sports Updated: Aug 26, 2009 00:41 IST
Abhishek Hore
Abhishek Hore
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

If Tuesday's training session was any indication, India know that complacency usually spells trouble in sport.

Fresh from their win against Kyrgyzstan — history, according to most players — India face a sterner challenge in the form of Sri Lanka, in the ONGC 14th Nehru Cup, at the Ambedkar Stadium on Wednesday.

A win against the islanders will be an important step on way to a final berth and Bob Houghton's boys did give the impression that they want to move one step closer to the title-round.

A defeat, however, is likely to ring the curtains down on the defending champions' campaign.

“That's why the game is very important. But I don't want to talk about our past records against them (Lanka),” said skipper Bhaichung Bhutia, who missed India's 3-1 win over the islanders in the 2006 Asian Cup qualifiers in Doha, the last time the two nations met.

“Moreover, this game is important for Sri Lanka too. They also need three points, so we I guess we will have to play to our best to beat them tomorrow,” he said.

After their upset win over Lebanon, the high-flying Sri Lankans were brought down to earth by Syria on Monday, losing 0-4, but Houghton isn't ready to take anything for granted.

“The thing with underdogs is that they have the tendency to cause upsets at the start of the tournament, but once the other teams get a hang of their style, they can be beaten,” Houghton said.

“In that sense, Lebanon I think were a little unlucky to face them first up and Syria benefited from playing them next,” he said.

The good news for India is that they are not carrying any injuries. “Surkumar Singh will be back while Sameer Naik is still recovering from his hamstring injuries. Rest is fine,” said Houghton.

“Sri Lanka played high up the field, so there were lot of off-sides against them last night,” the Briton observed.

“In the last game, we played well in the first half, dominated the game, its just that we relaxed a bit after the penalty,” he said.

Lanka coach peeved

Sri Lanka's coach Sampath Pereira was peeved with the scheduling. “We will be playing three matches in five days and that hardly gives our players the time to recover after a match,” he said.

“One of my defenders — HW Hettarachhi — will miss the tie against India because of the red card he got against Syria,” Pereira said.

“But it's a very important game for us, so we will try to give our best shot tomorrow,” Pereira said.

“Though we were outplayed by Syria, our team performed very well against Lebanon.,” Pereira said.

Pereira, the former Mohun Bagan player, is hoping the stunning victory against Lebanon in their first match would spur his boys to come up with another extraordinary performance, when they take on the defending champions in the must-win game.