Cricket World Cup: Sri Lanka & NZ ready for semi-final

New Zealand's Ross Taylor plays a shot next to Sri Lanka's captain and wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara
Sri Lanka beat NZ in an earlier group game

Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan is an injury doubt for Tuesday's World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.

The 38-year-old, who will retire after the tournament, is struggling with a hamstring injury and knee problem.

"Murali and everyone around him is trying to get him as fit as soon as possible and fit enough to play," said captain Kumar Sangakkara.

New Zealand paceman Andy McKay has replaced injured Kyle Mills, although Daryl Tuffey is likely to start.

The Black Caps defeated South Africa by 49 runs to reach the semi-finals.

However, New Zealand have failed to get past the last four stage in their previous five attempts.

"It's our big chance in the semi-finals to go one better," said captain Daniel Vettori.

"I think the reputation we have is that we can beat any team on a given day."

Meanwhile, Vettori said he was shocked about the plans for the pitch for the match at the R. Premdasa Stadium.

"They revealed we'd be playing on the same wicket as the one England played on in the last match," added Vettori, who will be stepping down as one-day captain after the tournament.

"We thought it would have been mandatory to prepare a fresh wicket, but obviously not."

Meanwhile, if Sri Lanka's Muralitharan fails to recover in time then he may be replaced by fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekara.

"Kulasekara has done exceptionally well against New Zealand every single time he has gone out there," added Sangakkara, whose side thrashed England by 10 wickets in the quarter-finals.

"He is a strong contender to play as well."

Kulasekara took 1-19 off his seven overs in 112-run win over New Zealand in the group match at Mumbai. That was a contest which also saw Muralitharan take 4-25.

Sri Lanka, who won the 1996 World Cup, have reached the semi-finals on three occasions.

In 2007, they defeated New Zealand by 81 runs before losing to Australia in the final.

Despite beating the Black Caps in the group encounter and at the last World Cup, Sangakkara said his team will be wary of the threat posed by the underdogs.

"New Zealand will be exceptionally tough," said the skipper.

"Dan's a great captain and has been around the scene for a long time. He understands these conditions.

"They will be a formidable side and we don't expect anything to come easy to us."


Sri Lanka: Kumar Sangakkara (capt), Mahela Jayawardene, Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Silva, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath.

New Zealand: Daniel Vettori (capt), James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Jamie How, Brendon McCullum, Nathan McCullum, Andy McKay, Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Luke Woodcock, Daryl Tuffey.

Umpires: Steve Davis (AUS) and Aleem Dar (PAK)

TV umpire: Marais Erasmus (RSA)

Match referee: Chris Broad (ENG)

Match starts: 0900GMT