Sri Lanka enter semis; Jayawardene relishing Australia challenge

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, April 15, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene says his side’s self-belief means they can do what no other team has managed since the 1999 World Cup – beat Australia. “The next two weeks for us is the showcase time for the whole tournament, and our senior players, who have been in World Cups before, I think that’s when you’ll see them stand up and start enjoying the tournament for what it is.”

The reigning champions, chasing an unprecedented third successive title, have gone 25 games unbeaten at the World Cup since losing to Pakistan at Headingley eight years ago, a sequence that includes their famous tied semi-final against South Africa in 1999.

Australia’s nine-wicket thrashing of Ireland on Friday was their 19th straight World Cup win and meant they became the first team in the Caribbean to qualify for the semi-finals.

New Zealand and Sri Lanka have also joined them in the last four courtesy of the Black Caps’ win over South Africa on Saturday.

“I think we have a very good record against Australia,” said Jayawardene. “Why? Because we play our brand of cricket and we are not afraid of doing that.”

But Sri Lanka will still be without Lasith Ma