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Last Updated:  Friday, 3 January, 2003, 12:45 GMT

Sri Lanka on the up
Chaminda Vaas
Vaas has been performing well for Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka have gone from strength to strength in the limited overs game since winning the World Cup in 1996.

The one-day standings placed the South Asian side third after a run of good results in 2001 and early 2002.

A recent string of poor performances threatened to see them drop down those rankings, but a return to form has seen the side live up to their billing as the fourth-best outfit in the world.

The dip in form they suffered at the back end of 2002 was reminiscent of the slump during the 1999 Cup, when failure to qualify from the group stage took the side back to square one.

That was a wake-up call and as a result the Sri Lanka board reinstated 1996 Cup-winning coach Dav Whatmore.

Whatmore introduced tough training regimes and diets for his squad players.

The impact of this seemed to produce a positive response from the side.

They finished 1999 and began 2000 with a flourish, winning series over Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

The 2001 season was also particularly fruitful for Sri Lanka, when wins over New Zealand and England were coupled with victories in the ARY Cup and Coca-Cola Cup.

FORM: LAST 12 MONTHS
Played 34 - W:17 L:15 NR:2
Pakistan & NZ (a): W:3 L:2
England & India (a): W:1 L:5
Bangladesh (h): W:3 L:0
SA & Pakistan (a) W:4 L:1
Beat South Africa in final
ICC: W:3 (Pak, Ned, Aus)
Final v India - no result
South Africa (a): W:1 L:4
Australia & England (a)
W:2 L:3 In progress
Sri Lanka, who were renowned primarily for great batting talents such as captain Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardene and Aravinda de Silva, were also beginning to produce a good pace attack.

Players such as Chaminda Vaas, Prabath Nissanka and Dilhara Fernando have progressed well under the guidance of Jayasuriya and Whatmore.

A string of one-day defeats at the hands of South Africa and then Australia and England saw Sri Lanka slump prior to Christmas.

But since the turn of the year Whatmore's men have rediscovered their best form.

Jayasuriya has found some touch with back-to-back centuries and the return of Muttiah Muralitharan and the veteran Aravinda de Silva has given the team greater depth and experience.

There are fears that on South Africa's fast, dry tracks Sri Lanka may suffer a similar World Cup drought to the one that hit them hard in 1999.

But they are at least now travelling with the hope that they may progress out of the pool stages for only the second time in their history.





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