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Lanka must be at their best to beat Bangladesh

CRICKET: Sri Lanka will have to play at their best if they hope to beat Bangladesh and make further progress in the World Cup when they meet at this picturesque venue on Thursday.

Bangladesh served notice of what to expect from them when they stunned the cricket world and India beating them by five wickets on Sunday.

The Indians who arrived here as one of the favourites to take home the World Cup were completely outplayed by the Bangladeshis who played a fine team game to dump the Indians.

The Sri Lankans will have to be extra careful because the Bangladesh coach Dav Whatmore knows the weak and strong points of most of the Lankans and would have spent hours with his pupils telling and showing them how to go at the Lankans.

The Lankans would certainly have been jolted when Bangladesh beat the Indians and would have got down to more serious practice and sharpened their strategy and tactics. A win against Bangladesh would make the Lankans breathe easy because their chances of moving into the Super 8 would be that much more easy.

The Lankans too are one of the favourites to repeat their previous world cup success. The conditions would not worry the Lankans, because it is very much similar to the conditions existing back home. The sun shines brightly and there is a little bit of humidity.

While the conditions would not worry them, the pressure that the Bangladeshis would apply would be tremendous. But the Lankans have the firepower to bring down the Bangladeshis.

The wicket here at Queens Park is playing true and batting or bowling first would not be a bonus. But it would be advantageous if the Lankans could bat first, post a huge score and put the opponents under pressure.

At the time of writing the Lankans have not decided on the team they would play. Whether they would opt to go in with the team that beat Bermuda or whether to slot in the experienced Marvan Atapattu would be their only problem.

The team that played Bermuda had strength allround. Batting ran down deep and the bowling had enough sting. The Lankans must be tight with their fielding.

Although dropped before scoring, skipper Mahela Jayawardena came back to form with a splendid 85 which should give him the necessary confidence to get back into the run making act that he is known for.

Runs should also come from the bats of Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Chamara Silva, Tillekeratne Dilshan and Russel Arnold.

The Bangladeshi batsmen have shown a weakness when up against the cunning spin of Muttiah Muralitharan and the clever seam and swing of Chaminda Vaas.

Lasith Malinga with his deceptive action could also trouble the opponent batsmen. Bangladesh have a good bowling side. Medium pacer Mashrafe Mortaza moves the ball both ways and is a difficult proposition when he strikes a length.

Spinners Abdur Razzak and Mohammed Rafique are penetrative spinners and would be difficult to counter.

In the game against India, 17-year-old debutant Iqbal Khan shone with a steady knock. Half centuries also came from Iqbal, Rahim and Hassan and runs are expected from them.

However Bangladeshis strong point is their brilliant fielding.

With both teams striving to keep their hopes alive, an interesting and a no quarter asked or given match is on the cards.

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