Cricket World Cup: `Pathetic' Sri Lanka

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The Independent Online
THREE YEARS AGO the Sri Lankan batsmen looked as if they did not have a care in the world as they smashed their way to glory in the 1996 World Cup. But now, after last Friday's embarrassing eight-wicket defeat by England at Lord's, they appear distinctly edgy.

Yesterday it was their tour manager, Duleep Mendis, who went after the batsmen, saying that unless they rise above the mediocre for today's match against South Africa in Northampton, "the ultimate disgrace" will be waiting around the corner. Defeat against the World Cup favourites would all but put an end to Sri Lanka's hopes of qualifying for the Super Sixes - phase two of the tournament.

"If you can't bat then you will have to forget about cricket," Mendis said after Sri Lanka's top-order failure against England. "It's absurd, you can't expect the bowlers to bat. You don't expect No 8 to get runs. It was pathetic to see them batting. Unless we pull our socks up, the ultimate disgrace will be in store for us."

Sri Lanka are expected to replace Hashan Tillekeratne with Mahela Jayawardene. Another option is to add an all-rounder - Chandika Hathurusingha (seam) or Upul Chandana (leg-spin) - in place of the medium pacer Eric Upashantha.

In the day's other match in Group A, Zimbabwe are set to recall the seamer Eddo Brandes against India. Their coach Dave Houghton, gave Brandes, who was dropped for the opening win against Kenya on Sunday, an extended work-out in the nets at Grace Road yesterday.