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Lanka need self-belief

Australia Have been going through this World Cup campaign as favourites should, winning every game they have played so far.

india Updated: Mar 17, 2003 23:45 IST
Michael Holding
Michael Holding

Australia Have been going through this World Cup campaign as favourites should, winning every game they have played so far. Some of the victories have not been convincing but they have been winning just the same.

Australia are a very confident team and that's part of the reason why they have been able to win continuously even when they have found themselves in seemingly losing positions. Another reason is of course, ability, but one major reason could be the fact that some teams don't really believe they can beat them. The West Indies of the 70's and 80's had that effect on a host of teams who basically had already lost in their minds before the contest had started.

Sri Lanka, in their semi-final contest, have got to believe that they can win, not just say it in team meetings and hope for the best but actually believe in what they are saying. If they need hard evidence to support that belief, they need not look further back than the ICC Trophy 2002 in Sri Lanka last year in September.

Australia were looking just as devastating then and started the game against Sri Lanka as if it was just going to be another obstacle easily overcome on their way to another title.

It was an unexpected bowling change when Hayden and Gilchrist were looking well set for another demolition job with the bat that changed matters and Sri Lanka went on to win comfortably. Surely, the coach, captain and management have been reminding their troops of that game in their build up to this very important clash.

Sri Lanka have a few problems of their own. Their campaign has not been the smoothest. They have had their good and bad days and could by no stretch of the imagination consider themselves to be playing at their best.

Mahela Jayawardena, a class batsman and one of their best, has been totally off colour, to the extent that he was dropped for their last game against Zimbabwe, a game they had to win to advance to the semis.

The question is, do you still leave him out against Australia, another must win situation or do you trust his proven ability and hope that the big occasion will instigate a welcome return to form?

It should all depend on Jayawardena's state of mind. Only he would know what that is, but if he thinks he is ready for the encounter, he should be selected. It may be a risk but a risk worth taking considering his proven class and ability.

That's not an easy decision for the selectors but life wasn't meant to be easy, neither will the encounter against Australia.

First Published: Mar 17, 2003 23:45 IST