Wednesday 28 March 2007 

Rain Concerns For Australia And South Africa

Champions Australia and top-ranked South Africa hoped rain would not play spoilsport after a sodden start to the World Cup second stage Super Eights.

Australia will resume their opening game against hosts West Indies on Wednesday after rain forced play to be abandoned after they amassed 322 for six in 50 overs.

West Indies, set the target after opener Matthew Hayden smashed an Australian World Cup record 158 for his second consecutive hundred, are aiming to win the inaugural game at the new Viv Richards stadium in St John's.

Australia beat West Indies in the ICC Champions Trophy final to avenge a defeat in the early rounds of that tournament in India late last year.

West Indies, who chose to bowl first to use the early seam movement, could be at a disadvantage as they would have to bat on Wednesday morning, provided the weather relented.

The match will resume at 2 p.m. (1300 GMT).

South Africa will also have concerns over weather ahead of Wednesday's tough opening match against strong contenders Sri Lanka in the Guyanese capital Georgetown.

The teams will head into the unknown in the new Providence Stadium where mystery surrounds the nature of the pitch.

Rain on Monday and Tuesday only added to the factors the teams would have to take into account.

"It looks a good surface and the outfield looks magnificent considering the weather they've had," Sri Lankan coach Tom Moody said on Tuesday.

"But how it plays is still a mystery to us all because it's a new surface, it's only been laid for eight or nine months.

"There's moisture in the surface but there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of pace in it.

South Africa abandoned their planned net session at the ground on Tuesday because they felt the practice surfaces were not up to standard.

Sri Lanka, like Australia, are in tremendous form after delivering a clinical performance to beat eventually eliminated India by 69 runs and top Group B in Trinidad.

The seven-week tournament ends with the final in Barbados on April 28.

© Reuters 2007.
By N.Ananthanarayanan