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Help WC will be very competitive: Sangakkara
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After Australia's decline, domination by a single country on the world stage seems to be over for now, and consequently, Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara feels that the 2011 Cricket World Cup in the sub-continent is going to be one of the most competitive and open ones.

"Yes, the World Cup next year is going to be the most competitive in recent times for a number of reasons," he said.

"Australia have been defeated all around the world. The domination of spin in the sub-continent is also not what it used to be earlier as a lot of teams play spin better now. And for the sub-continent teams, the format of the tournament makes it very competitive," said Sangakkara in a teleconference with journalists from Sri Lanka.

The 2011 World Cup will be hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in February-March and will have a total of 14 teams competing in the event, divided into two pools of seven each. The top four in each pool will progress to the quarterfinals.

The format is expected to cut down on the number of one-sided matches at the tournament and will also ensure that each team participates in a minimum of six games before it makes a cut to the last eight stage.

"The straightaway elimination after the first round to make it to quarterfinals and then moving on to the semifinals and final will surely make the mega-event even more tough this time," said Sangakkara, who today dethroned Sachin Tendulkar from the top spot in the batting chart of the ICC Test rankings.

Sangakkara, who is the brand ambassador of the programme 'Cricket unites for people living with HIV on World Aids Day', also spoke about the importance of creating awareness around the disease, ahead of the World Aids Day on December 1.

He stressed on the importance of the cricketers' support for the Think Wise initiative, a joint partnership between the ICC, UNAIDS, UNICEF and the Global Media AIDS Initiative that has been running since 2003, which aims to raise awareness around HIV prevention and eliminate discrimination against people living HIV and AIDS.

"It is very important because many people living with HIV live in cricket-playing countries. It is something that you cannot escape no matter where we play and the lack of awareness and low sense of risk are some of the factors that contribute to high risk taking, making particularly young people in the 15-24 year age group vulnerable to infection," said the cricketer.

Bangladesh skipper Shakib-ul-Hasan also joined the campaign as the brand ambassador from this year, which also includes another cricket captain, South Africa's Graeme Smith.

Not only the brand ambassadors, even other players and match officials would do their bit in creating awareness as they will all wear red ribbons in the one-day matches being played on December 1 between Bangladesh-Zimbabwe, India-New Zealand and Sri Lanka-West Indies, as well as on the opening day of the Ashes Test match between Australia and England on December 3.
PTI
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