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September 30, 2002
1220 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 hoping rain will go away in Colombo

Brian Murgatroyd

India and Sri Lanka were not the only teams to be concerned by the bad weather that washed out the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy final in Colombo on Sunday.

Australia and Pakistan were also watching the skies anxiously as they prepared for their three-Test series starting in Colombo on Thursday.

For Australia there is an ominous parallel with the last time they were in Sri Lanka, at the same time of year in 1999.

Then they lost a three-Test series 1-0, but the second and third matches were both badly affected by rain that affects cricket in Sri Lanka at this time of the year.

The final Test of that series took place at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo between September 30 and October 4, but only 158.3 of a scheduled 450 overs were possible.

Australian team manager Steve Bernard, who was also in charge of the tour three years ago, watched the rain fall on Sunday night but was philosophical about the situation.

"It happened three years ago and it was desperately disappointing to have that trip marred by the weather," he told Reuters.

"But it is just one of those things that is out of our control and we just have to hope the elements are kind to us."

Bernard said the three players -- captain Stephen Waugh, his brother Mark and Justin Langer -- who have linked up with those already here for the Champions Trophy had already got some cricket behind them, even if rain prevented any more practice.


"Stephen and Mark have just come off spells in county cricket and Justin captained the Australia A side in South Africa so they are all match hardened," he said.

"Acclimatisation is another matter but all three had 40-minute spells in the middle during a practice session before the rain started today, so they have also had the chance to try and get used to pitch and weather conditions as well," he added.

Bernard said it was too early to speculate on whether the squad would look to move on to the venue for the second and third Tests, Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, if the rain continued.

"That is a hypothetical situation and we just hope the weather fines up before we even have to think about anything like that," he added.

The Test series was originally scheduled to take place in Pakistan but was shifted to neutral venues when Australia declined to tour there because of concern over security.

The Champions Trophy final will be replayed on Monday, weather permitting.

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