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Sri Lanka favoured by dry pitches

Adelaide's dry pitch will suit them in Friday's opening final, Australian player Michael Hussey said on Wednesday.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2006 15:13 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Australia expected to play South Africa not Sri Lanka in the best-of-three triangular one-day cricket final series, but Adelaide's dry pitch will suit them in Friday's opening final, Australian player Michael Hussey said on Wednesday.

The South Africans surrendered what a week ago had seemed like a certain place in the finals, losing their last seven wickets for 68 to go down to Sri lanka by 76 runs in Hobart on Tuesday.

Though Australia's one-day player-of-the-year Hussey said it was "good for cricket" that Sri Lanka had made the finals, the Australians would have preferred another chance to bury the Proteas before touring the republic at the end of the month.

Instead they will play Sri Lanka who may excel on a pair of dry, spinning pitches in the absence of Glenn McGrath, just as it did at the Sydney Cricket Ground early in the tri series.

The dusty tracks will likely blunt the pace threat posed by Brett Lee and Mick Lewis, and hinder support seamers Stuart Clark, Nathan Bracken and Brett Dorey to move the ball.

The second final is scheduled to played in Sydney on Sunday, with a third final, if required, set down for Brisbane on February 14.

"It's going to be a really tough game against the Sri Lankans, particularly here where I think the conditions suit them," Hussey said here on Wednesday.

"They definitely suit them, those sorts of pitches Sydney and here suit them a bit better but we're still confident.

"We had a good win against Sri Lanka here, but it certainly does suit them a bit better than pitches like the Gabba and maybe even the (Melbourne's) Telstra Dome."

Sri Lanka's form has fluctuated from sublime wins in Sydney and Brisbane to a poor display in the series opener against Australia in Melbourne and a collapse to Graeme Smith's part-time spin in Perth.

Their resounding success on the slow Bellerive pitch on Wednesday had Hussey lauding the Sri Lankans as a better side than South Africa.

"So they're probably playing the better cricket at this point (than South Africa)," he said.

"They've played the most consistent cricket, so I think that's good for cricket to get the best teams in this series playing in the finals."

Hussey indicated that South Africa's early exit would benefit them more than Australia, allowing players to rest and work on strategy ahead of their three-Test series later this month.

"It's been a long tour having Tests and one dayers so I'm sure they're pretty weary and looking forward to getting home and getting into their own beds," Hussey said.

First Published: Feb 08, 2006 15:13 IST