Sri Lanka rested 3 bowlers, Lasitha Malinga (the find of the world cup), Chaminda Vaas (their deep throat) and Mutthaiah Muralitharan (the best spinner in the world cup) when they faced Australia in their league match. This strategy has been questioned by all and sundry. Basically this was a strategem (a gem of a strategy)
Malinga by the grace of an injury was to be rested. But Sri Lanka chose to go ahead and drop Murali and Vaas as well. Now this strategy allowed them the following liberties:
1. They could afford to save their bowlers from exposing to Australian batsmen at this stage. Australian batsmen as using the league stage to batter the confidence of the bowlers so that when they meet them in the Semi Finals or Finals, the bowlers may opt for defensive line.
2. They have the advantage if they win with this depleted line up, and still not have the psychological disadvantage even if they lose. This is an unusual situation.
3. Losing also ensured that Australia finish at the top of the league and Sri Lanka won’t have to face them in the Semi Finals. The probability of New Zealand finishing on top is low since Sri Lanka had beaten them earlier.
4. This allowed Sri Lanka’s Best Batsmen to have a feel of all Australian bowlers but denied them (australian batsmen) a complimentary opportunity (to face the Sri Lankan attack). Malinga being a mystery weapon Sri Lanka would not like to disclose the surprise spring and allow Ponting and Hayden to become comfortable with the sight of his unusual action.
5. This also allowed them (Sri Lanka) to blood their 12-13-14 so that if the need arise, they are not raw and would have already faced the best team in the World Cup. And this allowed the 3 bowlers to get crucial rest before the last 2 matches. In contrast Australia has not been able to give sufficient opportunity to their bench to warm up.
In the end all other matches are now useless, and any team that can win the last 2 matches is the World Champion. And Sri Lanka is trying to save the best for the last.