| Muttiah Muralidharan in Mohali on Friday. (AP)
Mohali: As organisers continue to bicker over profit sharing, the focus will now shift to on-field action as cricket’s second-most coveted title — the ICC Champions Trophy — begins on Saturday with Australia as favourites.
The Australians have never managed to win the tournament, billed as the ‘mini-World Cup’ and it remains to be seen whether the three-time world champions can break the jinx.
The high-profile event begins with a day-night qualifying match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at the PCA Stadium on Saturday, but the group stage matches will begin from October 15.
The Lankans should not find the going tough against the minnows, who barring a couple of upset wins against fancied teams, have not really impressed. Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene on Friday asked his teammates to guard against complacency, saying a slip-up could prove disastrous.
“Bangladesh has been playing international cricket for the past six to seven years. They are a good side and nobody can take them lightly,” the said during a pre-match press conference.
Asked if the form of the top order batsmen was a worrying factor, he said he had full faith in his batsmen. “We had taken a conscious decision to bat first so that the batsmen could take it as a challenge. I am reasonably satisfied that we could reach that score in the practice game.”
Coach Tom Moody said they were going into Saturday’s match with confidence. Moody said the pitch looks impressive with good grass. “The grass is a dead, but it indicates that runs are going to easily come by,” he said.
Bangladesh want to raise themselves to that level where other top teams will fear playing against them, coach Dav Whatmore said on Friday.
“The boys have shown that they are going in that direction. A day will come when top teams will fear playing Bangladesh,” Whatmore said.
Sri Lanka (from): Mahela Jayawardene (capt.), Kumar Sangakkara, Sanath Jayasuriya, Maravan Atapattu, Upul Tharanga, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedara, Ferveez Mahroof, Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralidharan, Ruchira Perera, Dilhara Fernando, Lasith Malinga, Malinga Bandara.
Bangladesh (from): Habibul Bashar (capt.), Shahriar Nafees, Khaled Mashud, Mohammed Rafique, Mohammed Ashraful, Mashrafe Mortaza, Rajin Saleh, Abdur Razzak, Aftab Ahmed, Syed Rasel, Shahadat Hossain, Farhad Reja, Saqibul Hasan, Mehrab Hossain.
Umpires: Steve Bucknor (WI) and Darryl Harper (Aus).3rd umpire: Simon Taufel (Australia).
Match Referee: Mike Procter (SA).
Match starts: 2.30pm