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Last Updated:  Friday, 14 March, 2003, 10:52 GMT
Legends take swipe at Sri Lanka
By Anbarasan Ethirajan
BBC Tamil Service

Sri Lanka's impressive win over New Zealand in their opening World Cup match raised hopes that the team could produce a run similar to one in 1996 when they won the tournament.

But the fluctuations in fortune for Sri Lanka have prompted calls for a change in their team strategy and a reassessment of how the game is managed by officials back home.

Though the side topped Pool B after the preliminaries, a defeat against Kenya and thrashings at the hands of India and Australia in the Super Sixes showed they were far from champion material.

They should learn how to play for the first 15 overs
Captain Jayasuriya on his batsmen

Former captain Arjuna Ranatunga, who led the team to World Cup success in 1996, believes that a lack of strength in depth is a key factor in why his country are so inconsistent.

"The main problem is that we are really struggling to find quality fast bowlers," said Ranatunga.

During the 2003 campaign, only left-arm paceman Chaminda Vaas has been prolific in the wicket-taking department, while youngsters Pulasthi Gunaratne and Prabhat Nissanka have suffered.

Spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has been the only other bowler to have made a mark - albeit it in sporadic bursts.

Ranatunga added that the Sri Lanka Cricket Control Board were partly to blame for the current poor state of the bowling attack.

"Former Sri Lankan fast-bowler Rumesh Ratnayake did a good job by grooming youngsters like Dilhara Fernando and Nissanka," he said.

"But we didn't look after him well and he left. We have enough talent in Sri Lanka but our board officials are mismanaging the game."

Ranatunga says the Sri Lanka board made a mistake

Sri Lanka's batting performances have also been below par at the World Cup.

Captain Sanath Jayasuriya has been the only real shining light among a line-up which, according to him, have shown a lack of fight.

"During the match with India our batsmen did not show discipline and control," said Jayasuriya.

"First of all, they should learn how to play for the first 15 overs. We have not learnt how to so far. Their attitude has been highly disappointing."

Ranatunga added that electing to bat first in group matches against Canada and Bangladesh deprived the middle order of much needed practice.

"We exposed them against stronger teams like West Indies and Australia and they failed," said Ranatunga.

Now Sri Lanka's fate hangs in balance. They can qualify for the semi-final providing India beats New Zealand and they defeat Zimbabwe.

Links to more Sri Lanka stories



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