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Sri Lankans face the easy Bangla challenge

Pietermaritzburg: Upbeat Sri Lanka can afford to throttle back in their next three matches before facing the West Indies and South Africa to complete the World Cup’s first phase.

The 1996 world champions launched their Group B campaign with a comprehensive 47-run win over New Zealand and can now feast on the relatively easy pickings of Bangladesh, Canada and Kenya.

Sri Lanka play Bangladesh at the Pietermaritzburg Oval on Friday and, having beaten them by five wickets, eight wickets and 58 runs in their last three meetings, would expect to achieve a similar result.

“The first match was a very important game for both sides, it was almost a double-pointer,” said Sri Lanka coach Dav Whatmore, after his team’s impressive display against New Zealand in their opener.

“Now it gives us a real chance to play a few more easier matches before we strike teams like the West Indies (in Cape Town on February 28).”

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka fast bowler Pulasthi Gunaratne was ruled out of the next three matches after breaking a bone in his right index finger. Tem manager Ajith Jayasekera, however, said on Thursday that the right-armer is expected to be fit for the key Group B games against the West Indies and South Africa.

Gunaratne suffered the break while fielding against New Zealand on Monday. He is likely to be replaced by either Prabath Nissanka or Charitha Buddhika for Friday's game.

Test newcomers Bangladesh are unlikely to offer Sri Lanka much resistance, although they will be determined to put on a reasonable showing after their humiliating defeat by Canada on Tuesday. (Agencies)

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