“We have plans for the short deliveries” – Karunaratne

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Dimuth Karunaratne insists the Sri Lanka batting order will have full license to take on the short ball when they face off with Australia in their crunch ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup clash at the Oval.

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On Saturday they come up against an in-form Australia who downed Pakistan on Wednesday at Taunton.

Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins’ fast-bowling barrage has been vital for Australia so far this World Cup, and the same duo also roughed up Sri Lanka in a one-sided Test series at the start of this year.

Sri Lanka’s batsmen – Karunaratne aside – have not hit top form yet, with the team bowled out for 136 and 201 in their two matches so far.

And while short bowling has yielded serious rewards so far across this World Cup, the Sri Lankan skipper insists his side are ready to fight fire with fire in a must-win clash in south London. 

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We already played against the Australians in a practice game, we know each other really well,” said the 31-year-old.  

“We have some kind of plans, so we will try and stick to them.

“If you look at the World Cup, the short ball has been a serious matter. The fast bowlers are taking a lot of wickets with bouncers.

“We know they are going to go really hard against us, but they can only bowl two bouncers an over so we can be ready for those things.

“Some of our guys are really good players of the short ball, some of them find it hard. But if you think you can go for it, I will tell my players to go for it because we need runs as well.

“We discussed our plans in the dressing room, and we will try to do well against the Australian bowling.”

Seamer Nuwan Pradeep – the tormentor in chief against Afghanistan – is nearing a return following a finger injury sustained in the nets in Bristol.

While Lasith Malinga flew home for a family matter but will be back in time for tomorrow’s clash against Australia, and Karunaratne is sure his side can re-start their campaign quickly. 

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“Nuwan (Pradeep) is fit now, but we have to see if he can field,” he added.

“We will check that at training today so he can do everything in the outfield. That is a concern, we will check that today and if he is fit, he will go for it.

“In Bristol we stayed in the same place, the only thing was we couldn’t get a game. But we trained indoors and outdoors, we did a lot of physical training and did everything we could.

“You cannot control the weather, unfortunately we couldn’t play those two matches, but we are prepared for the Australian game.

“Lasith (Malinga) is on his way, he is coming to join the team and will play tomorrow.

“Australia have a really good bowling line-up and top order with bat in hand. We need to take early wickets and have to get through the early overs with the bat, that will be the crucial part.”

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