ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup 2011, Colombo
Sri Lanka wary of "dangerous" Pakistan
Sa'adi Thawfeeq in Colombo
February 25, 2011
Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka's captain and vice-captain respectively, have both warned that Pakistan are a dangerous side that other teams will be wary of in the World Cup. Not too many people have tipped Pakistan to win the tournament, after a tumultuous year for them in which they have been plagued by off-field issues, but Jayawardene said he was surprised by the lack of hype around them.
"I find it surprising that their name is not bandied about in the mix of potential World Cup winners as they have brilliant match winners with both bat and ball," Jayawardene wrote on his blog.
Sangakkara echoed that sentiment, saying Pakistan's batsmen were dangerous. "Any opposition is wary of them and we're not going to take anything lightly or for granted," he said. He was, however, confident that his bowlers would be up to the task, particularly with what he described as a "vastly improved" pace attack. Lasith Malinga has been Sri Lanka's most successful bowler in the one-day format over the past year, and Thisara Perera, who seemed to have added a couple of yards of pace to his bowling in Sri Lanka's opening match against Canada, has been the second highest wicket-taker.
"We understand how dangerous the Pakistani batsmen are and that's the beauty of playing a side like them," Sangakkara said. "Those challenges I think the bowlers will enjoy. There's been a vast improvement for us actually to have good fast bowlers in our squad. We've got guys who bowl over 140[kph] and we've got guys who swing it as well. Both sides have good pace and good spin and I think it's going to be a battle between two teams who are looking forward to a very keen contest. Every side has a different approach and we've got our own, which we're trying to fine tune as we go along. "
Sri Lanka, along with co-hosts India, are being touted as one of the favourites to win the World Cup, but Jayawardene said even though Pakistan may not be hosting any games, they still know the conditions well. "Pakistan are just as familiar with the conditions, so they pose a huge danger to any side, especially in the knockout stage and it should be a good match," he said. "Despite what people may write or not write, we certainly are fully aware of what this Pakistan side can do to any team with seemingly little effort."
One possible setback for Sri Lanka is that there are still doubts over the readiness of Malinga for the game. He missed the match against Canada with a back strain, though Perera and Nuwan Kulasekara did the job in his absence.
"Lasith is improving very fast and we'll have to look at him," Sangakkara said. "We don't want to rush him into a big tournament like this. He is the most important player for us so we want to make sure that he is comfortable and everyone is comfortable with the decision."
The pitch at the R Premadasa has been completely re-laid ahead of the World Cup, but Sri Lanka's players have the advantage of having played on it during the domestic one-day tournament in January. Sangakkara, who praised the new pitch in Hambantota, said he thought the wicket in Colombo would be as good for batting. "In the match against Canada the wicket was good and we think even this surface will act the same," he said. "We don't' want to think too much about the pitch."