Monday, November 29, 1999

Lanka set sights on final as they take on Bangladesh

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Joseph Hoover Dambulla, June 17 (PTI) Defending champions Sri Lanka will look to crush a beleaguered Bangladesh and enhance their chances of making the Asia Cup final when the two sides clash here tomorrow. Four-time champions Lanka, who defeated Pakistan by 16 runs in their first outing on Tuesday, need one more victory to virtually qualify for the June 24 summit clash. For Bangladesh, tomorrow''s clash has become a do-or-die contest as they are coming into the match after a six-wicket defeat against India and one more drubbing would be enough to spell their ouster. Given their potential and the advantage of playing in home conditions, Sri Lanka are not likely to be troubled by Shakib Al Hasan''s team. Their bowlers, especially paceman Lasith Malinga are in superb form and a formidable batting line up makes them an outright favourite against the Asian minnows. Considering that they are in the process of building the nucleus of their side for the 2011 World Cup, the defending champions would be tempted to play Suraj Randiv instead of the wily Muttiah Muralitharan, who was savaged by Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi the other day. Muralitharan bled 71 runs from his 10 overs, conceding as many as five sixes to Afridi, who made a blistering 76-ball 109, his first ODI century in four years. Lanka could also possibly seek a change for Farveez Maharoof who looked far from impressive on his comeback. He failed with both ball and bat, apart from struggling to come down on the ball in the outfield. While Kumar Sangakarra has only these aspects to look into, his Bangladesh counterpart has far too many issues to address. Not surprisingly Shakib Al Hasan has called on his boys to perform as a unit. "We played well as individuals but not as a team. That is an area we need to improve on a lot," Shakib had said after Bangladesh''s six-wicket defeat against India. Emphasising on the need to unite and perform as a team, a visibly perturbed Shakib said, "We need to climb one step ahead and put team performances together, only then can we win some games. That is the main area we have to concentrate on." Shakib was happy with the performance of his openers, but was dissatisfied with the middle order batsmen who struggled against the Indian spinners. He was hoping that this could be sorted out at the team meeting before the match against Sri Lanka.

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