Jayasuriya happy to spot the difference | india | Hindustan Times
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Jayasuriya happy to spot the difference

Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya might be reflecting on what a difference two months makes as he plots his team's final push towards the World Cup Super Sixes.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2003 11:53 IST

Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya might be reflecting on what a difference two months makes as he plots his team's final push towards the World Cup Super Sixes.

In December, Sri Lanka departed South Africa after a disastrous tour.

They were heavily beaten in two Test matches and beaten 4-1 in a one-day series and were even trounced by South Africa A, the host country's second string, in a one-day game.

But it has been a different Sri Lanka, and especially a rejuvenated Jayasuriya, who have been pace-setters in the World Cup.

Sri Lanka have won both their matches - beating New Zealand and Bangladesh - and Jayasuriya, whose poor personal performances were a factor in their defeats on the earlier tour, has been in top form, hitting 120 against New Zealand and 55 not out against Bangladesh.

For good measure, he has climbed back to the top of the world one-day batting rankings.

The Lankans will seek to maintain the momentum when they play outsiders Canada at Boland Park here on Wednesday, knowing they have an opportunity to top Group B.

Provided the major teams keep winning against the minnows in the group, Sri Lanka will have two opportunities to clinch a place in the Super Six at the expense of South Africa - either by beating the West Indies in Cape Town on February 28 or when they play South Africa in Durban on March 3.

If Sri Lanka win the Cape Town match, South Africa won't be able to qualify even by winning in Durban.

Canada, the bottom-ranked team in the 14-nation competition after taking the third and final qualifying place in the ICC Trophy in Canada in 2001, have done surprisingly well in their first two World Cup games.

Canada beat Bangladesh in their first match in a Durban day-nighter, then put up a spirited showing before losing by four wickets against Kenya in Cape Town.

Medium-pace bowler Austin Codrington produced one of the best bowling performances of the tournament when he took five for 27 to secure a 60-run win against Bangladesh, while Ian Billcliff, who has provincial level experience in New Zealand, has been the best Canadian batsman, hitting 42 against Bangladesh and 71 against Kenya.

Apart from having to curb Jayasuriya and the other Sri Lankan strokeplayers, Canada will have to find an answer to Chaminda Vaas, the left-arm swing bowler who took a hat-trick in the first over against Bangladesh in Pietermaritzburg Friday.

Sri Lankan off-spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan has had a quiet tournament so far but could find the slow Boland Park pitch to his liking.