Lankans aiming for big victory against Zimbabwe

Pallekele: Hosts Sri Lanka will be aiming for a resounding victory against Zimbabwe when the two teams square up in a group league encounter at the Pallekele International Stadium, here on Thursday.

Victory by a big margin will help the hosts to improve their group standing in what will be their penultimate group encounter.

The Kumar Sangakkara-led side are currently placed third in the group with five points. Defending champions Australia also have five points in their kitty but they are fourth in the standings as Lankans enjoy a better run-rate.

But Australia have played one game less than them and have two games left against minnows Canada and Kenya providing them a chance to boost that net run-rate.

"We`ve been consistent but still there is room for improvement," Lankan vice-captain Mahela Jayawardene said ahead of the game against Zimbabwe.

"Overall we can be happy. It`s such a big and long tournament. It`s important that we be consistent and try and get better and better going forward because you get big games and tough games coming in a few weeks. I am quite happy with the way we started the tournament and where we are right now, but there are areas in which we can improve," he added.

Although Sri Lanka will be playing at home, they wouldn`t be too familiar with conditions here as they haven`t played even a domestic game on this ground under lights.

They employed three spinners in their washed-off game against Australia in Colombo and are likely to change that combination here where the pitch expected to suit the fast bowlers a lot more.

Paceman Dilhara Fernando is expected to play in the game in place of either Rangana Herath or Ajantha Mendis.

Zimbabwe, meanwhile, are fifth in Group `A` with two points. Their only win came against Canada whom they beat by 175 runs. They lost to Australia by 91 runs and New Zealand by 10 wickets.

There have been four World Cup encounters between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe and all four have been won by the Sri Lankans.

It will be a tough ask for the Zimbabwean batsmen to counter the furious pace of Lasith Malinga and the guile of Muttiah Muralitharan.

One would be interested to find out how the Zimbabwe batsmen deal with the challenge of digging out the yorkers that Malinga dishes out. Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura would expect that some of his frontline batsmen like the skipper himself, opener Charles Coventry start contributing with the bat.

Teams

Zimbabwe: (from) Elton Chigumbura (captain), Regis Chakabva, Charles Coventry, Graeme Cremer, Terry Duffin, Craig Ervine, Greg Lamb, Shingirai Masakadza, Chris Mpofu, Tinashe Panyangara, Ray Price, Vusi Sibanda, Tatenda Taibu (Wicketkeeper), Brendan Taylor and Prosper Utseya.

Sri Lanka: (From) Kumar Sangakkara (Captain and Wicketkeeper), Mahela Jayawardene, Tilakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Silva, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath.

Umpires: Marais Erasmus (SA) and Nigel Llong (Eng)

Third Umpire: Tony Hill (NZ)

Match Referee: Chris Broad.