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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 February 2007, 18:30 GMT
Agnew's World Cup verdict - Sri Lanka
AustraliaSri LankaNew ZealandPakistanSouth AfricaEnglandEnglandIndia

By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Sri Lanka
This is a really unpredictable team, who could have a great tournament or could be swept away in the Super Eights.

For me, Mahela Jayawardene is an outstanding captain. The leadership came by default when Marvan Atapattu picked up a long-term injury but it's been the making of him.

He is also a beautiful batsman, and part of an exciting top order featuring the veteran Sanath Jayasuriya - a massively experienced and hugely dangerous player - and the sensible Atapattu.

The wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara is also a wonderfully talented player and between the four of them they have a unit who can set big targets and chase big targets.

As for the bowlers, Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan, intelligently rested for the series in India, will produce 20 formidable overs between them in every match.

Sri Lanka team shot
The unexpected 1996 World Cup triumph transformed cricket in Sri Lanka
Never quite as good since, they did reach the 2003 semi-finals
Vaas has some very good slower balls which he conceals well and we all know what Murali can do with his heavily-spun off-breaks.

With Sri Lanka, it's all just a question of what support the core players will get from the other team members.

The lower order batting, with players such as Tillakaratne Dilshan and Chamara Silva, are going to have to perform.

All-rounder Farveez Maharoof has an important role to fill, then there are the back-up seamers like the fast Dilhara Fernando and the sling-shot bowler Lasith Malinga.

Fernando and Malinga have both produced some excellent spells in recent matches.

But they will now need to produce consistent performances on potentially slow, low wickets that may not suit their style of bowling.

Sri Lanka are a good fielding side. They have improved hugely in that regard since the arrival of coach Tom Moody.

English fans will remember Sri Lanka thrashing us 5-0 in the summer of 2006.

It was probably the worst performance ever from an England team in one-day internationals.

Sri Lanka showed in those matches that they have the players to capitalise on a situation when they take an early advantage.

But I still feel they are no more than an outside bet to win the World Cup.

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