Cricket: World Cup - Ranatunga urges patience

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The Independent Online
ARJUNA RANATUNGA, the Sri Lankan captain, believes his side are finally coming to terms with playing in English conditions, but has admitted that it may be too late to save their defence of the World Cup.

The Sri Lankans face India at Taunton today with both sides needing a win to progress to the Super Six stage. Ranatunga, whose side have so far failed to plunder runs from opposition attacks in the same way did in 1996, said: "We've been working very hard on the batting but we have to have a little patience."

Unfortunately the English summer conditions, coupled with the white ball, have done no favours for the top-order Sri Lankan batsmen. "The wickets are slightly damp so it's quite difficult for the batsmen to hit over the top," Ranatunga said.

India, too, have been slow out of the gate and must also win to keep their Super Six hopes alive. Their captain, Mohammed Azharuddin, admitted he would face the wrath of his nation's angry fans should they lose. "It's always the captain who takes the blame when the team is not doing well, " he said. "We've done a lot of talking. It isn't the case of us not doing enough or lack of commitment; it all boils down to big-match temperament."

South Africa face Kenya in Amsterdam in the first official international played in the Netherlands. The South Africans have won all three of their games so far but, at the last World Cup in 1996, they won five group matches only to be knocked out by the West Indies in the quarter-finals. They look set to rest Allan Donald and Steve Elworthy, with the spinners Nicky Boje and Derek Crookes, the all-rounder Alan Dawson and the batsman Dale Benkenstein all likely to play.