Sri Lanka on verge of reaching the last eight

Thursday, 10 March 2011 00:03 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

MUMBAI, (Reuters) - Sri Lanka should seal their entry into the knockout phase when they meet Zimbabwe in their penultimate World Cup match at the Pallekele stadium on Thursday.

The co-hosts, currently on five points from four matches, will still need to guard against Zimbabwe as an upset would put them under tremendous pressure in their last match against New Zealand in Mumbai on March 18.


The loss against Pakistan and the washed-out game against Australia has put Sri Lanka, considered by many as one of the favourites to win the showpiece event, in a tricky situation.

The Sri Lankan batting has been running hot and cold with the openers failing to give the team solidity at the top of the order.

Tillakaratne Dilshan has failed to live up to the expectations of his team and it has put tremendous pressure on the other batting mainstays -- captain Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

Left-handed Sangakkara, though, has faith in his batsmen to come good.

“Everybody can’t score in every match,” he told reporters after the washed-out match against Australia.

“Mostly, when you play with better teams, you need everybody’s support.

“I don’t think it is lack of responsibility. Unfortunately in some games, batsmen fail.

“Since there are seven batsmen, at least one or two or three must be able to get the score that is needed.”

The Sri Lankan bowling, though, might turn out to be a bit too hot for Zimbabwe to handle.

The African nation’s batting looks suspect having already crumbled twice -- against Australia and New Zealand -- in the tournament.

Against Lasith Malinga and Muttiah Muralitharan, hopes of survival will once again be slim.

“It is always hard against a bigger team,” captain Elton Chigumbura said after the 10-wicket loss to New Zealand in their last match.

“Most guys have got 10 runs and got out. If they get their eye in, they are capable of scoring.”

The African nation’s strength lies in their bowling, their spinners to be exact, backed up by some smart fielding.

The tweakers, led by the experienced Ray Price, will try to make life difficult for the batsmen forcing them to take a few undue risks.