Vol. 5 Num 418 Sat. July 30, 2005  

Eyes on the World Cup
India-Sri Lanka open tri-series today

Sri Lanka coach Tom Moody will use the Indian Oil Cup one-day triangular series against India and West Indies, which starts on Saturday, to look at new players as his attention turns to the World Cup.

The former Australia all-rounder took over as coach in May with the aim of guiding 1996 world champions Sri Lanka to victory in the 2007 competition in the West Indies.

"We are looking at a couple of new players in this series and this is an important stepping-stone for the World Cup," Moody told Reuters as Sri Lanka warmed up for the tournament with a day-night practice match on Thursday.

"We have got a chance to continue the good form that Sri Lanka has had in one-day cricket during the past couple of years and also build in a few areas that will make us even better," he added.

After seven months without a one-day international, Sri Lanka have made several changes to their squad, which includes uncapped players Upul Tharanga, an opening batsman, and all-rounder Dilhara Lokuhettige.

Experienced left-arm seamer Chaminda Vaas is unavailable for the opening match of the tournament against India because of a hamstring injury.

Moody wants to find a reliable opening partner for Sanath Jayasuriya and a fast-bowling all-rounder for the middle order.

"In the past couple of years we have had a lot of players occupying that opening position and I would like to think that with time we could get some stability there so we all know what roles we are playing," Moody said.

India's Australian coach, Greg Chappell, is also concentrating on putting the building blocks in place for the future after the team won just nine of their 23 one-dayers last year.

Chappell has been given an early opportunity to experiment due to Sachin Tendulkar's absence with an elbow injury, while former captain Sourav Ganguly is serving a four-match ban and is unavailable for the Sri Lanka game and Sunday's clash against West Indies.

Ganguly had been banned for six matches for his team's slow over-rate against Pakistan but it was reduced by two games on Thursday on appeal.

"If we can put the building blocks in place here to build some success over the next couple of years then we put ourselves in a better position come 2007," Chappell told reporters.

"But we also have to be a little bit careful that we don't start planning too much for the World Cup as we still have still got to deal with the present and have success."

Tournament underdogs West Indies, who face India on Sunday, are without Brian Lara and several other established players due to contract disputes.

"This is a squad that could unearth some players for the future and that is the way we are looking at it," coach Bennett King said.

INDIA: Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, Venugopal Rao, Jai P Yadav, Mahendra Dhoni, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Lakshmi-pathy Balaji, Ashish Nehra.

SRI LANKA: Marvan Atapattu (captain), Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Russel Arnold, Dilhara Lokuhettige, Upul Chandana, Chaminda Vaas, Nuwan Zoysa, Farveez Maharoof, Muttiah Muralitharan, Dilhara Fernando, Lasith Malinga.

WEST INDIES: Shivnarine Chanderpaul (captain), Ryan Ramdass, Xavier Marshall, Sylvester Joseph, Runako Morton, Narsingh Deonarine, Denesh Ramdin, Omari Banks, Tino Best, Daren Powell, Jermaine Lawson, Ricardo Powell, Kerry Jeremy, Dwayne Smith, Deighton Butler.