Cricket - World Cup: Sri Lanka hope for perfect pitch

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PHIL FROST, rated the top groundsman in English first-class cricket three times in the last five seasons, may be the man to help Sri Lanka's out-of-form World Cup batsmen get back among the runs.

Frost is head groundsman at Somerset's county headquarters in Taunton where the holders, Sri Lanka, meet India tomorrow in a Group A match that is a "must win" for both teams.

A flat pitch at a relatively small ground with some invitingly short boundaries is likely for the game. Frost, who won the groundsman of the year award from England's cricket authorities in 1994, 1996 and 1997, said yesterday: "It should be a good pitch for a one-day game. There will not be any moisture in it, although the white ball may move around if it is overcast early on."

A key factor in producing a good pitch is an early start, according to Frost. "I begin to prepare a pitch three and a half weeks before a match," he said.

Both sides have a battle on their hands to qualify for the Super Six second stage having won just once in their first three fixtures.

Sri Lanka's manager, Duleep Mendis, admitted his batsmen need help. "Our bowling and fielding is excellent but the batting is the problem. It used to be the other way round," he said.