|Player:||TM Moody, M Muralitharan, WPUJC Vaas|
|Event:||Sri Lanka in India 2006/07|
DateLine: 9th February 2007
Sri Lankan coach Tom Moody called Thursday for an impressive show from his team in the one-day series against India, saying it was vital for their confidence ahead of next month's World Cup. Sri Lanka are grouped with India, Bangladesh and debutants Bermuda in the World Cup starting in the Caribbean in March, with the top two advancing to the Super Eight stage. "Beating India in the group stage would be a major step in our progress to the Super Eight, so this series offers the team a good opportunity to find form going into the World Cup," he wrote in his column in Indian newspapers. Sri Lanka open the four-match series against India later Thursday with a day-nighter at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. "Cricket's showpiece event is not the best place to find your form, after all, and it would be perfect if we had a series win under our belts so that the guys would be on autopilot in the Caribbean," said Moody. Sri Lanka are without key spinner Muttiah Muralitharan and fast bowler Chaminda Vaas, but Moody said their absence was a blessing in disguise. The duo, with a combined tally of 802 wickets in one-day internationals, has been rested for the India series. "I think that (their absence) is actually a blessing because it gives the two a well-earned break," he said. "They are two of the pillars of this side, and since much is expected of them in both forms of the game, they will obviously need to freshen up physically and mentally for the World Cup. "Their absence also gives some of the younger players the opportunity to assume greater responsibility. True, the younger guys have some pretty big shoes to fill, but we are 100 percent confident of their abilities." Moody said his team were keen to gain momentum, although the conditions in India and the Caribbean were different. "We will be two neutral teams playing at neutral venues in the World Cup, though we are in the same group," he said. "The overpowering energy that flows from the crowds when India play at home will be missing in the West Indies, so it will be more of an even contest. We hope to gather a lot of momentum from this series to carry into the World Cup, though I am not a great supporter of the theory that playing conditions in India and the Caribbean islands are pretty similar."