Ahmedabad: Sri Lanka is keen and eager to continue its winning streak and notch up its 12th straight win in the ICC Champions Trophy against Zimbabwe here at the Motera on Tuesday
The Sri Lankans have made an excellent start to their campaign after beating Bangladesh in their first outing at Mohali. The men from the Emerald Isle are only one victory away from progressing to the next stage. Of late the Lankans have been flying high. Mahela Jayawardene has led by example, scoring runs aplenty. While Jayawardene has been a star performer for many years, Sri Lanka's new star has been Upul Tharanga. His fifth century in his 30th one-day international against Bangladesh has turned out to be a worthy record.
The Sri Lankans will bank on its seasoned campaigners, one of whom is left-arm seamer Chaminda Vaas who was the wrecker-in-chief of Zimbabwe in 2001, taking eight for 19. Zimbabwe was bowled out for 38 and in 2004 it flopped again, making 35. It is the combination of Vaas and off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan that has played havoc on the team on many occasions. These two should play a major role against a down-in-the-dumps Zimbabwe side.
Sri Lankan coach Tom Moody said, ``We'll be approaching this game just like any other. Whether it's Zimbabwe, England, Australia or India, it makes no difference. The emphasis is to win the match.
"Zimbabwe didn't have the start that they wanted against the West Indies, but that doesn't count for anything against us. Whether they have world class players or not is not relevant. If anyone thinks they can come into a match with a foot off the gas and not quite switched on they can be in for a rude shock.''
Sounding very optimistic Jayawardene said Sri Lankan cricket has been improving for the last 10 years. ``It's not just Tom. For the last 10 years the standard of Sri Lankan fielding has been very high. It's something in our pride; playing for our country we know that fielding is a big aspect, not just in one-day cricket, but in Test cricket as well. We've worked hard on our fielding as in our batting or bowling. We've got Trevor Penney who's a wonderful guy and a brilliant fielder. He's put in a lot of work with the guys in terms of different techniques and accuracy, and it is paying off.''
From Zimbabwe's point of view, coach Kevin Curran expects the players to give their best shot. ``It's going to be a fresh game. We did not apply ourselves against the Windies. When you lose four wickets inside the first 10 overs it is going to be tough for any team.
``Hopefully, we won't repeat that. When you lose a match like that, players are obviously going to get upset. But there is no use in approaching the Lanka match with a mental hang-up from the last match. We will have to apply ourselves a lot more and bat more positively and put a good score on the board.''
The teams (from): Sri Lanka:Jayawardene (capt.), Marvan Atapattu, Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakarra, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedara, Farveez Maharoof, Chaminda Vaas, Ruchira Perera, Dilhara Fernando, Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan, Malinga Bandara.
Zimbabwe:Prosper Utseya (capt.), Stuart Matsikenyeri, Hamilton Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura, Terrence Duffin, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Brendan Taylor, Harry Rinke, Gregory Strydom,Tawanda Mupariwa, Edward Rainsford, Anthony Ireland, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Tafadzwa Mufambisi.
Umpires:Aleem Dar and Asad Rauf (both Pakistan); Third umpire:Rudi Koertzen (South Africa); Fourth umpire:Mark Benson (England).
Match referee:Jeff Crowe (New Zealand).
Hours of play:2.30 p.m. to 6 p.m.; 6.45 p.m. till close