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September 13, 2009
Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka's captain, is not out for revenge against India after the recent history the two teams have shared. Sri Lanka surrendered their last two home series to India but scored an emphatic victory on Saturday, one that left Sangakkara pleased at the way the team had shaped up.
"I think you learn from your past games and you move on and you face newer teams, different combinations every single time you go out. So the past is the past really," said Sangakkara after the team's practice session. "You cannot dwell on it too much and get lost in it. You've got to be prepared for the present and for the future."
Sangakkara denied Sri Lanka gained a psychological advantage over India in the dress rehearsal for Monday and was keen to keep the focus on the final. Sri Lanka are unbeaten in finals at home this decade and Sangakkara hoped to kept that outstanding record. "Every victory is done and over. You've just got to get ready and face the next challenge. We have won one or two games here, so we've just got to get prepared for the finals. We have just spoken about clearer plans for everyone. We are just on the right track to build from here. And each victory in that journey is very important."
Sri Lanka's middle order has been boosted by the late call-ups to Thilan Samaraweera and Thilina Kandamby. Samaraweera's exceptional maiden century lifted Sri Lanka from 69 for 5 against New Zealand and on Saturday Kandamby's unbeaten 91 seized the momentum back from India. Sangakkara identified those contributions, as well as Sanath Jayasuriya's return to form, as "very important factors in subcontinent conditions". "With Sanath in form with his batting and his bowling I think it balances the side very well," he said. "The middle order is just started clicking. You just have to keep that going ... work hard and at the end of the day every single batsman must be responsible for his performance."
Calling it right at the toss has been a crucial factor at the R Premadasa stadium, where Sri Lanka have preferred to bat first and then call upon their magnificent bowlers to strangle the opposition. Sangakkara has, in every press conference at this venue after the Tests, stressed on the need to change history and he spoke of the same today. "Are you going to think about the toss and not about winning the game, or are you going to try and win the game no matter what happens with the toss? I think we've got to get the attitudes and our minds right. We know what the reality is so we got to fight harder and harder every single time and try change them.
"My theory of luck is simple. If you are prepared and you train very hard then the need for luck is minimise. The toss unfortunately cannot control that and what you can control is how you react to it and what do you do after it. Whether you bat first or second you got no choice you have to try and win the game."
Sri Lanka will take a final call on Muttiah Muralitharan on match day, but one bowler who has lessened the impact of his absence has been Lasith Malinga. After rocking New Zealand with an explosive three-wicket over on Tuesday, Malinga had the Indians hopping. "If Malinga is firing well and the ball is swinging he is equally deadly with the newer or older ball. In these conditions when the ball is slightly older he seems to get a bit of reverse-swing very early with his action," said Sangakkara. "I think that is his gain, his strength. We just want to make sure that we exploit every bowler's and each player's strength every time we use them."
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