Sri Lankan coach rates Pakistan as favorite
Posted: Monday October 4, 2004 10:07PM; Updated: Monday October 4, 2004 10:07PM
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) -- Sri Lanka's cricket coach John Dyson on Monday picked Pakistan as the favorite to win the triangular series, which also features a young and inexperienced Zimbabwe.
"Pakistan being at home are formidable and are favorites," Dyson told reporters in Karachi after the Sri Lankans had its first net session at National Stadium.
Pakistan defeated Zimbabwe in the first two one-day internationals of the series -- by 144 runs at Multan and by three wickets at Peshawar on Sunday. The home team will meet Sri Lanka at Karachi's National Stadium on Oct. 6.
Sri Lanka is without off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who is nursing a shoulder injury. But Dyson said he has enough backup talent.
"I am fortunate to be the coach of a team which has good players and are good in all the areas of the game," Dyson said.
After the triangular series, Sri Lanka will compete in two test matches against Pakistan. Dyson admitted Muralitharan's absence will be felt in the five-day games.
"He is a world class player in both forms of the game (one-day and test matches) and it is difficult to replace him," Dyson said of his star cricketer.
"Couple of bowlers have taken the responsibility and are doing well in his absence," he added.
Sri Lanka has had mixed fortunes in the last dozen test matches: winning four, drawing four and losing four test matches.
Sri Lanka was the first team to compete against Zimbabwe in April after the International Cricket Council suspended the African nation's test status until December 2004.
"Zimbabwe has improved since we last played against them in April this year," Dyson said.
Sri Lankan captain Marvan Atapattu agreed. "They have come up since then and shown talent ... so it would be a different team from what we saw in April," he said.
Against Pakistan, Zimbabwe claimed four early wickets before its backup bowlers failed to contain Pakistan batsmen Abdul Razzaq, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik and Younis Khan.
Atapattu also echoed his coach's comments on Muralitharan.
"Not only we but the cricket loving people in the world miss him, but other players have rallied around and we have managed to put up good performances recently," Atapattu added.