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Sri Lanka to continue winning

WORLD CUP: The Sri Lanka elated with their convincing triumph over the West Indies arrived in Antigua, promising to continue their winning streak when they confront England, here on Wednesday.

The Sri Lankans are now second to reigning champions Australia in the points table and success here could take them to the top of the table.

The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium named after the island's most famous player is a new stadium and replaces much-loved Antigua Recreation Ground as the island's major venue, constructed in partnership with the Republic of China.

The earliest European contact with the island was made by Christopher Columbus during his second Caribbean voyage (1493), who sighted the island in passing and named it after Santa Maria la Antigua, the miracle-working saint of Seville.

The Lankans victory over West Indies was earned by excellent team work. When Upul Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara failed, Sanath Jayasuriya and skipper Mahela Jayawardena put their hands up and not only repaired the innings, but took it to formidable proportions with a classic stand of 183 runs for the third wicket.

Both played quality cricket. They got over the early nerves and rode the heat and humidity to stage a great recovery and lead the way to a match winning score of 303 for 5.

Then the bowlers and fielders brought their capabilities into play and the Windies had to concede defeat and acknowledge Sri Lanka as the better team.

At the post match media briefing skipper Mahela Jayawardena said that they are the tournament match by match. He said that they go in with a plan and try to execute it.

The weather here is fine at the moment. But there has been freak showers and it is everyone's hopes that the weather will stay fine and allow a full 50 overs game to unfold. The newly laid wickets play differently at all venues. But captains winning the toss prefer to put the opponents in and take advantage of the moisture on the wicket.

When Sri Lanka last met England in England they inflicted a 5-0 humiliating defeat which the Englishmen found hard to swallow. The Englishmen are sure to come hard at the Lankans trying not only to avenge those defeats, but also chalk up a victory, which they hope could help them have a tilt at the trophy that has been eluding them from the inception.

A close scrutiny of the teams show that the Lankans are the better equipped allround side. But then cricket is a funny game, especially the 'cowboy game' and complacency could see the undoing of the team that takes it easy.

Upul Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara failed in Guyana. They are sure to make amends. Jayasuriya must fire again, so must Jayawardena who has come back to form. Tillekeratne Dilshan, Chamara Silva, Russel Arnold and Chaminda Vaas.

The bowling is the capable hands of Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitheran and Sanath Jayasuriya. The fielding has been a strong point for the Lankans.

England rely heavily on Andrew Flintoff, Kevin Petersen and Paul Collingwood. The other batsmen Ed. Joyce, skipper Michael Vaughan and Ian Bell have not got into the habit of making runs.

Their bowling has nothing much to offer. On form the lankans must win this one too.

ANTIGUA, Tuesday


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