Sun, Oct 22, 2006 - Page 22 News List

Sri Lanka win on `sticky wicket'

PROBLEM SOLVED Both team captains agreed that the glue had improved the pitch, but Sri Lanka's bowlers still dismissed the Black Caps for just 165

AFP , MUMBAI, INDIA

New Zealand cricketer Brendon McCullum, left, looks on as Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardane plays a shot during their ICC Champions Trophy match in Mumbai on Friday.

PHOTO: AFP

Rivals Sri Lanka and New Zealand nodded their approval of the artificial methods used to bind the dusty wicket for their Champions Trophy clash on Friday.

The International Cricket Council's pitch consultant Andy Atkinson sprayed the pitch at the Brabourne Stadium with a glue, Polyvinvl Acetate, before the start of the match to keep it firm for 100 overs.

The pitch, that turned from brown to white after the spray, had been criticized over the last week for breaking up in the second innings, causing a string of low scores.

The string of bowler-dominated matches continued despite the unusual methods of Atkinson as Sri Lanka bowled out the Black Caps for 165 and then won by seven wickets, but both captains were pleased with the wicket.

"There was a bit of sideways movement early on with the glue in the pitch, but certainly not enough to suggest that we should've been bowled out for 165," said New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming. "It settled down pretty quickly and held together well till the end. So I guess in terms of the experiment with the glue it worked."

Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene added: "It held up pretty well."

"Early on it skidded through a bit more," he said. "Towards the end it did spin, but it wasn't nasty turn. The ball wasn't jumping and it wasn't dangerous. As long as you can play spin properly it was much easier to bat on."

With no more matches to be played at the stadium till the final on Nov. 5, Atkinson and his team have 16 days to prepare a good wicket for the title clash.

"The pitch for the final will be much better than now," said the portly Englishman. "Maybe, I won't need to use the glue any more."

The win on Friday kept Sri Lanka alive in the eight-nation tournament after their opening loss to Pakistan in Jaipur on Tuesday.

Both Sri Lanka and New Zealand have one win each from two matches. Pakistan have played one game while South Africa lost their opening match to New Zealand.

World champions Australia, West Indies, England and hosts India are in group A.

Prolific off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan starred in Sri Lanka's impressive win, finishing with 4-23 on a helpful track.

Young opener Upul Tharanga (56) and captain Jayawardene (48) built on the advantage with a 89-run stand for the second wicket.

Both batsmen fell in four deliveries from spinner Jeetan Patel, but Kumar Sangakkara and former skipper Marvan Atapattu guided Sri Lanka home in the 36th over.

"We perhaps three to four overs more than we should have to reach the target," said Jayawardene. "But in the end our net run rate should be in a decent situation. But if we can play well and beat South Africa we won't have to think about net run rates that much."

Sri Lanka take on South Africa in their last league match in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. New Zealand clash with Pakistan a day later in Mohali.

"Every match is big," said Fleming. "Teams are beating each other so the groups are very even. It's going to come down to a must-win situation and that's okay because that's the nature of the tournament anyway."

AFP, KINGSTON, Jamaica

Organizers of the 2007 World Cup have altered the warm-up schedule ahead of next year's tournament in the Caribbean.

The four teams competing in Group C of the warm-up matches have agreed to a change in fixtures to rectify an anomaly in the format.

Ireland and Pakistan, who are both drawn in Group D of the tournament's group stage here, will now no longer play each other in a warm-up fixture on March 6 in Trinidad.

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