Sri Lanka ponders changes for Pakistan 'quarterfinal'

Whichever team triumphs will join title-holder India as one of the two Group B qualifiers for the semifinals of a tournament featuring the world's top eight one-day international teams.

Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews will hope that his team performs well despite injury setbacks.   -  REUTERS

Sri Lanka replacement batsman Dhananjaya de Silva could find himself pitched straight into a winner-takes-all Champions Trophy match against Pakistan in Cardiff on Monday.

Whichever team triumphs in the Welsh capital will join title-holder India as one of the two Group B qualifiers for the semifinals of a tournament featuring the world's top eight one-day international teams.

Sri Lanka is having to shore up its top order after injuries saw both Chamara Kapugedera and Kusal Perera ruled out of the remainder of the Champions Trophy, while vice-captain Upul Tharanga, an experienced batsman, is completing a two-game ban.

 

Tharanga was suspended by the International Cricket Council for presiding over a slow over-rate during Sri Lanka's opening defeat by South Africa -- a match regular captain Angelo Mathews missed due to a calf problem.

Kapugedera then suffered a knee injury and was replaced by Danushka Gunathilaka for Sri Lanka's surprise win over India at the Oval, only for Perera to have to go off mid-innings with a hamstring injury having batted well for his 47.

Now Sri Lanka will hope De Silva can follow the lead of opening batsman Gunathilaka, who made an impressive 76 in Sri Lanka's surprisingly comfortable seven-wicket win on Thursday.

"It's a shame to lose Kusal, he batted extremely well -- but Dhananjaya de Silva is also a very good player," Mathews told reporters in Cardiff on Sunday.

"We had to bring him into the squad because we are left with only seven batters at the moment," added the fit-again all-rounder, who was there at the finish against India with 52 not out.

"He has a good chance of playing, but we still haven't decided."

Monday's match had the look of a 'dead rubber' after both sides were beaten first up, with Pakistan suffering a 124-run thrashing by arch-rival India.

But it too bounced back, defeating top-ranked South Africa.

Now Pakistan is just one game away from a semifinal with either tournament host England or Bangladesh and a wary Mathews said: "We all know they're a very dangerous team.

"There's no room for complacency in this kind of tournament."

It was Pakistan's attack, a well-balanced mix of spin and speed, that put it in a position to beat South Africa and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed will look to his bowlers to repeat that performance against Sri Lanka.

"We took wickets," he said. "If you take wickets, every good team feels under pressure."

Meanwhile, all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez said the 'win or go home' nature of the match would help Pakistan maintain its "crystal clear" focus in what will be the only Group B match at Cardiff.

"We are ready," Hafeez insisted. "We know this is a game we all want to win and want to go through to the semis."

He added: "We saw a little bit of the conditions. We had a couple of sessions here, and we are very much prepared for that."

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