Wednesday 18 April 2007 

Sri Lanka Face Ireland Team With Point To Prove

Sri Lanka complete their World Cup Super Eights campaign on Wednesday against an Ireland team intent on avoiding last place in the second round.

Sri Lanka looked anything but potential world champions in their seven-wicket loss to Australia on Monday, although they did take the field without their key bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan.

But as Australia captain Ricky Ponting pointed out afterwards it was the full-strength batting line-up which failed, capitulating for 226 from 49.4 overs.

Sri Lanka's two most destructive batsmen Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara scored 12 and nought respectively and the lower-order fell apart.

Regardless of Wednesday's result, the 1996 champions are heading for a semi-final in Jamaica next Wednesday against New Zealand, who complete the Grenada second-round matches with a game against Australia on Friday.

If Ireland win on Wednesday and Bangladesh subsequently lose to West Indies in their final match, the Irish will finish in seventh place ahead of a full test nation.

More realistically Ireland will depend on their run rate, which at present is superior to Bangladesh's.

"We definitely didn't turn up here to come eighth," Ireland captain Trent Johnston told a news conference on Tuesday. "The cricketing world can see that in the way we played against Bangladesh.

"It's one thing we wanted to do, to come out and put Irish cricket on the map. not just in the world but in Ireland itself. I think we have done that."

© Reuters 2007