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DateLine Sunday, 22 April 2007

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Asantha de Mel correct to 'rest' Murali and Vaas:

WORLD CUP: To win the World cup in cricket is any country's dream and for Australia to win it this year and make it three wins in the tournament is what Australia and her many sympathisers want.

So, various allegations have been trotted out to suit the Australians cause. There are some Sri Lankans who also support Australia's cause, quite contrary to expectations here.

When Sri Lanka was down to meet Australia in the Super Eights segment of the tournament this year, both countries had made certain of their places in the semi-finals.

Sri Lanka has two bowlers - Muttiah Muralitharan - the world-class spinner and Chaminda Vaas - the left-arm paceman who has had a good run against international batsmen.

Asantha de Mel - the former Sri Lankan paceman, is the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Cricket Board's Selection Committee and he did the correct thing in keeping both Muralitharan and Vaas out of the Super Eights match against Australia, as Sri Lanka will have to meet Australia in the final if we got through our semi-final against New Zealand.

There have been many people even in Sri Lanka who thought otherwise.

I think those people are wrong. Why should we expose our best bowlers to foreign teams before an important final? This is the question which is being debated in many quarters.

The World Cup semi-final line-up is: Australia vs South Africa on April 25 in St. Lucia and the Sri Lanka vs New Zealand game is on April 24 in Jamaica. The final is on Saturday April 28 in Barbados.

When the Lankans met the New Zealanders in the Super Eights round of the tournament, the Sri Lankans captained by Mahela Jayawardene had an easy win despite an unbeaten century by Scott Styris but the other Kiwi batsmen failed and it helped Sri Lanka to win that game.

Australian skipper Ricky Ponting who made his 61st one-day half century in the game against Sri Lanka, smashed a six to finish the match on 66 and Australia cruised to a seven-wicket win and stretched their winning World Cup winning streak to 20 matches.

There was no Muralitharan or Chaminda Vaas in that game for Sri Lanka and right thinking people will agree with Chairman of Selectors Asantha de Mel that he did the correct thing in keeping the two key Sri Lankan bowlers away from the match against Australia.

Both Muralitharan and Vaas played in Wednesday's Super Eights game against Ireland and bowled well. Muralitharan took 4 for 19 in 5 overs and Vaas had 1 for 8 in 5.4 overs. The other bowler to impress was right-arm paceman Farveez Maharoof who had 4 for 25 in 10 overs.

Ireland who were sent into bat, were shot out for 77 in 27.4 overs and Sri Lanka made 81 for 2 wickets in 10 overs.

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