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September 9, 2002 | 2030 IST

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Jayasuriya injury keeps Sri Lanka on tenterhooks


Explosive Sri Lanka batsman Sanath Jayasuriya is still unsure whether he will recover from a shoulder injury to lead the hosts against Pakistan in Thursday's opening game of the ICC Champions Trophy tournament.

"I am trying my best. But there is still some pain," he said on Monday as Sri Lanka prepared for the 12-nation event, the second most important one-day tournament after the World Cup.

The left-hander badly dislocated his right shoulder while attempting a catch during Sri Lanka's victory over South Africa in a one-day triangular series final in Morocco on August 21.

He had looked certain to miss the prestigious event in his backyard, but is more optimistic as he is recovering from the injury faster than expected.

"I have started batting. I am trying my best," he told reporters, having started playing two days ago.


Jayasuriya is keen to lead his side to victory at home in the prelude event to next year's World Cup in South Africa and also shake off criticism of his captaincy that has come in the wake of a mixed set of results this year.

His side had a poor summer tour of England, coming second best to the hosts in the Test series before they failed to reach the final of a one-day tri-series where India beat England.

On persistent questioning at the media session with the entire squad, Jayasuriya said he had yet to decide whether he would play against Pakistan, but was annoyed with repeated questions on his fitness.

"There are another 13 players in the squad," he snapped when a reporter wanted to know why opener Avishka Gunawardene, named as his stand-by, was not present if Jayasuriya himself was not certain of playing.

Physiotherapist Alex Kountouri said Jayasuriya was recovering fast but was only "70 percent" fit.

"Maybe if it was just a one-day series or a Test series, the chances of his resting would probably be higher," Kountouri said.

Off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, their bowling spearhead on the slow tournament pitches in Sri Lanka, also says he had recovered only "90 percent" after a shoulder injury suffered in a one-day tri-series in Sharjah in April.

Team coach Dav Whatmore said his side will be wary of Pakistan despite their patchy recent form.

"They can't be underestimated. They know our (ground) conditions as well as we know theirs," he said, adding that his side did not want a repeat of their heavy defeat against Pakistan in Sharjah after reaching the final as favourites.

But Whatmore felt there could be a big incentive if the hosts beat Waqar Younis's side. "Maybe we will get to play teams which are not as well used to these conditions."

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