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September 23, 2002
1033 IST

Pool A:
Aus | Ban | NZ

Pool B:
Ind | Eng | Zim

Pool C:
Ken | SA | WI

Pool D:
Ned | Pak | SL

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Aus can win trophy if we beat Lankans: Warne

Brian Murgatroyd

Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne believes if his side can beat Sri Lanka in Friday's ICC Champions Trophy semi-final they can go on and win the event.

The match will bring together the two form-sides of the tournament with both line-ups having disposed of their pool opponents with ease.

Australia have beaten New Zealand and Bangladesh while Sri Lanka have crushed Pakistan and the Netherlands.

The other semi-final, on Wednesday, is between India and South Africa.

Sri Lanka will have the advantage of home conditions and a partisan crowd to back them up but Warne believes if Australia can overcome those hurdles then they can go on and lift the trophy for the first time.

"Sri Lanka will be the hardest to beat over here, in their own conditions, they know the conditions and play well in front of their home crowds," he told Reuters.

"But if we can beat Sri Lanka, and I know there's only one game to go after that anyway, I think we can win the whole thing."

Part of Warne's faith in Australia's chances comes from the way he enjoys bowling in this country, a pleasure that stretches back as far as 1992-93.

It was then that he claimed a three-wicket haul to help seal an unlikely win for Allan Border's side when he was still a relative unknown in world cricket.


"I've always done well in Sri Lanka," he said. "The last time we were here I got five in the first Test and even though the last two were affected by rain I still bowled 30 overs and took three for 30.

"The spinners can play a big role in these conditions. It's very hot here and that doesn't make it easy as you bowl the odd shorter ball or the odd fuller ball because of the sweat.

"But because of the pitch conditions you can also bowl the odd jaffa (good ball) too," he added.

Another reason for Warne's faith is the way the new ball pairing of Jason Gillespie and Glenn McGrath have swept all before them in the tournament so far.

McGrath took five for 37 against New Zealand while Gillespie claimed three for 20 against Bangladesh, with both men following on from fine performances in a one-day triangular series against Pakistan and Kenya.

The one downside of their efforts is a lack of bowling for Warne, but he sent down 10 overs against Bangladesh and is confident he can find his rhythm in the build-up to Friday.

"I suppose I'm one of the key bowlers for us but our new-ball bowlers have been bowling brilliantly here and in Kenya so I've not had that much to do," he said.

"Because of that I've been bowling lots in the nets to keep my workload up but I've been around long enough to hopefully do well in the big games and I think my record shows that," added Warne.


For Gillespie the match will represent a first appearance against Sri Lanka since his collision with Stephen Waugh in the Kandy Test match of 1999, an accident that resulted in a broken leg, a broken wrist and a season out of international cricket.

Just before the incident Gillespie was the pick of Australia's bowlers in a one-day series with India and Sri Lanka, and he is looking forward to renewing acquaintances with the home side's top-order.

"My memory is that I felt I bowled reasonably well in that 1999 one-day series," he told Reuters, "but I've not got much memory after that.

"It's been a while since I've played against them and I'm certainly looking forward to it.

"Conditions here are a lot different from back home so it is a real challenge but I'm just looking to have a bit of fun," he added.

Gillespie, Warne and the rest of the Australian squad are due to return to Colombo on Monday to begin work for the semi-final after a weekend break in the nearby Maldive Islands.

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