The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sri Lanka, New Zealand in early ‘shootout’
- Sanath Jayasuriya welcomes tough first match

Bloemfontein: Sri Lanka start their World Cup campaign with a crunch match against New Zealand here on Monday. Both teams know the result of this game will have a strong bearing on their chances of enteringthe next round.

The losers, in all probability, will be left with the task of beating the West Indies and South Africa to clinch a place in the Super Six. This is, of course, assuming that they will beat Bangladesh, Kenya and Canada.

The Sri Lankan captain is not too bothered by the fact that his team will kick off with a big game. “It is good to get a tough match out of the way early,” said Sanath Jayasuriya.

New Zealand, on the other hand, have a tougher task since a mere win may not be enough. Having decided not to travel to Kenya, they are almost certain to concede four points, and they would be looking for a big win here to improve their net run-rate, which may prove decisive.

“We generally start the tournaments well,” New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming said. New Zealand’s chances have been boosted by the return of Chris Cairns from a prolonged injury.

Sri Lanka have been boosted by the return of champion off-spinner Mutthiah Muralidharan who has recovered from a thigh-muscle injury.

Astle’s assault plan

New Zealand opener Nathan Astle has announced he wants to beat Jayasuriya in the battle of the big hitters. “It will be exciting and although Jayasuriya has done more than me, I hope to better him this time and help my team win.

“If he hits, so will I. I will do my best to live up to expectations,” said Astle.

TEAMS (from)

SRI LANKA: Sanath Jayasuriya, Maravan Atapattu, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda de Silva, Russel Arnold, Jehan Mubarak, Avishka Gunawardena, Hashan Tillekeratne, Mutthiah Muralidharan, Chaminda Vaas, Dilhara Fernando, Pulasthi Gunaratne, Prabath Nissanka, Charitha Buddhika.

NEW ZEALAND: Stephen Fleming, Andre Adams, Nathan Astle, Shane Bond, Chris Cairns, Chris Harris, Craig McMillan, Jacob Oram, Scott Styris, Daryl Tuffey, Daniel Vettori, Lou Vincent, Brendon McCullum.

Umpires: Steve Bucknor (West Indies) and Neil Mallender (England).

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