ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup 2011, Colombo
Kapugedera: 'We want to win for Murali'
February 24, 2011
Chamara Kapugedera wants Sri Lanka to win the World Cup as a tribute to Muttiah Muralitharan, who helped secure the trophy back in 1996, and who is set to retire from international cricket at the end of the tournament with a world-record haul of wickets in both Test and ODI formats.
"He's [Muralitharan] a special person, he's a legend, it will be his last World Cup," Kapugedera said. "Everyone wants to make him proud and give him a very good send off. Everybody is doing their best to take the World Cup back home for Murali and Sri Lanka. It will be a great tribute to Murali."
Sri Lanka are one of the favourites for this year's event, having finished as runners-up in 2007, and they launched their campaign in emphatic style on Sunday, with a 210-run victory over Canada in Hambantota. Saturday's fixture against Pakistan in Colombo will be a much sterner test, but they go into the match full of confidence.
"It's always important to win the first match of the tournament, whoever the side is. It gives you the confidence to carry on," said Kapugedera, "We had a very good game. We did what we talked about before the game. Everybody is happy with their performances. We have a good chance to have a shot from now."
Pakistan's own opening match was scarcely less one-sided. They recovered from a dicey first ten overs to rout Kenya by 205 runs at the same venue, but Kapugedera is unfazed by their form. "They are a very good side," he said. "Pakistan has good players and have done well in the past few months. We are not concerned about them, the major concern is about ourselves, what we do and how we prepare ourselves for the match. Hopefully we can come on the 26th and deliver the goods."
One thing that could be both a help and a hindrance for Sri Lanka is the fact that they will be playing at home. Familiarity with the conditions at the Premadasa Stadium could be offset by the pressure of expectation from their home supporters. However, Kapugedera does not believe that will be the case.
"It's not a pressure, it's a big advantage," he said. "The Sri Lankan crowd is very good. They support us even when we don't do well. That's what we need. We are playing a good side, we know that, we are prepared for it. They played a good game, yes. If we play to our true potential we have a very good chance to win the match.
"This is one of the biggest opportunities I have got playing in a World Cup. I want to win and the team wants to win... I am really up to it."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.