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Hopeful of an easier Port Elizabeth pitch

By Glenn McGrath
March 16, 2003 20:52 IST
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The South Africans did not take kindly to my remark that they crashed out because there was hardly any enjoyment in their game. Right now only India are playing with a spring in their step and the bond between the players, comparable to what exists in the Australian team.

The other similarity between the teams is that there are a number of match-winners in each side, and while one or two players are stars, the rest of the players are capable of turning things around. It is these similarities that prompted people to speak of an India - Australia final long before the Super Sixes were over.

Yesterday's win over Zimbabwe ensures a place for Sri Lanka in the semi-finals. Unlike Australia who have won everything, or India, who have lost just one match, the Lankan team comes to Port Elizabeth with three losses and a tie -- evidence of the fact that they are not playing consistently. A lot is being made of the fact that we are playing them at Port Elizabeth, but I'm confident that we will win our third game there as well.

As a bowler, my main target has always been Sanath Jayasuriya. I have got him out cheaply pretty often in our encounters in Australia, and the sideways movement and swing in Port Elizabeth encourages me to feel that either Brett Lee or I will account for him in the first fifteen overs. I feel that the injury Sanath sustained in his arm has hampered his batting in the last couple of innings. Atapattu and De Silva are also in good form, but from there on there does not seem to be much threat in the Lankan line-up.

The Sri Lankan bowlers will back themselves in Port Elizabeth, especially Muthiah Muralitharan and De Silva. Our bowlers have adjusted to the slowness and the lack of bounce in the Port Elizabeth wicket. Now it's up to the our batsmen to do the same, and negate the threat from Muralitharan and Aravinda.

I hear the UCBSA is looking into the way the pitch played in our last two encounters at Port Elizabeth. Hopefully, an easier pitch will be available for the semis. If that is not the case, I still back our team to keep our date at the Wanderers on March 23. It's now up to India to stave off Kenya and make it to the final.

As far as I am concerned, that would be the best possible climax -- with India wanting revenge and the Cup, and Australia wanting to prove that they're simply unbeatable.

(Gameplan)

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Glenn McGrath