Ranatunga prefers underdog tag

By Sa`adi Thawfeeq

24 August 1996

Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga whose side have been installed as favourites to win the Singer World Series said relations between his side and Australia had mended greatly.

``What happened was in the past. We are going to concentrate on playing cricket,'' said Ranatunga at a press conference held at Hotel (Lanka) Oberoi Friday.

The Sri Lankan team lunched with the Australians at the Australian High Commission on Wednesday and player-relationship was reported to be very cordial with Ranatunga having a friendly chat with Australian captain Ian Healy.

``The relationship between the two teams is excellent,'' said Australian manager Cam Battersby. Healy was conspicuous by his absence from the press conference which featured the captains and managers of the four teams.

Relationship between the two sides broke down during Sri Lanka's visit to Australia last year when the tourists were accused of ball tampering (of which they were later exonerated) and their key spinner Muthiah Muralitharan was called for throwing.

Ranatunga preferred to go into the tournament as an underdog than as a favourite because it put undue pressure on his side.

``We won the World Cup as underdogs, and we would prefer to remain like that. Whatever happens in the Singer World Series, the World Cup tag cannot be taken away from us for the next three years,'' he said.

Cricket's seventh World Cup tournament is not due until 1999 when England will be the host.

India's new captain Sachin Tendulkar said that he was eager to make an impact on his debut in his new role during the tournament, which also features Zimbabwe.

``I never felt any pressures when captaining Bombay and I don't think it will here,'' said Tendulkar.

Tendulkar rated the chances of his team winning the glittering Singer trophy as 'very good'.

The trophy was officially unveiled by Singer (Sri Lanka) chairman Hemaka Amarasuriya, who began the conference on a positive note by stating the prevalent bad weather would clear by today.

The Indian team arrived yesterday afternoon a few hours before the scheduled press conference, being delayed in their flight by two hours at Madras. Following a tour of England they had undergone a 10-day training camp at Madras which has put them in a proper frame of mind than their opponents for the fortnight long tournament.

India's opening match is against World Cup champions Sri Lanka on Wednesday at the R. Premadasa Stadium.

Zimbabwe who meet Australia in the lung-opener on Monday also at R. Premadasa Stadium fancied their chances of having a tilt at the title.

``We wouldn't be here if he didn't have a chance,'' said Zimbabwe captain Alastair Campbell, who admitted his side felt the absence of the experienced David Houghton, but had brought quite a few youngsters as replacements.

Bad weather threatened to disrupt the one-day benefit cricket match between World Cup champions Sri Lanka and a World XI at the R. Premadasa Stadium on Saturday.

Continual rains which began on Thursday evening gave the curator at the Stadium little chance of preparing the strip and there was little hope of the match to be played under lights commencing on time at 3 p.m.

However the organisers have made provision for the match to be played on Sunday if play is not possible on Saturday.

Sri Lanka are likely to rest left-arm fast bowler Chaminda Vaas and off-spinner Muthiah Muralitharan for the match to give allrounder Upul Chandana and fast bowler Ravindra Pushpakumara a chance to prove themselves ahead of the Zimbabwe series.

Chandana it is understood has been batting and bowling his legbreaks well at practice and the team management is keen to give him a break.

Source: The Daily News

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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 15:07