ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Sri Lanka v Pakistan, World Cup 2011, Group A, Colombo
Top-order collapse cost match - Sangakkara
Sa'adi Thawfeeq in Colombo
February 26, 2011
Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka captain, rued his side's top-order problems which wasted the solid start provided by the openers as they came up short in their run chase against Pakistan to register their first home defeat in a World Cup.
Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga put on 76 for the first wicket but Sri Lanka then lost 4 for 20 in seven overs. The middle order became bogged down as Chamara Silva struggled to build momentum until it was too late and despite Nuwan Kulasekara's brave effort the target always appeared out of reach.
"We did pretty well to restrict them to 277 and the start we got was good enough to keep on batting, but when you lose four wickets in the same amount of overs and you are less than 100 for four wickets down, it makes it a bit difficult," Sangakkara said. "We can say that we missed Lasith [Malinga] a bit, but the guys were pretty up to it.
"On this track 277 was very gettable and you saw how close we came at the end. If we had done a little more hard work with the top order batsman, I think we would have made it and crossed the line. The real negative for us from this game is we lost a bunch of wickets in a very short space of time."
Sangakkara believes his side will have learned some valuable lessons from the defeat, a result that shouldn't hamper Sri Lanka's chances of progressing to the quarter-finals. "Also the fact that partnerships are important and we should never panic at any point," he said. "We were well behind the run rate, but we still fell only 10 run short. So basically if we had kept building partnerships, when we had that great start, I think it would have been a different story."
Shoaib Akhtar rolled back the years with an express delivery to remove Mahela Jayawardene which followed quickly from Shahid Afridi's removal of Dilshan for 41. "That kind of gives them the momentum and unfortunately that was the real critical period in this game," Sangakkara said.
Chasing is notoriously difficult at the R Premadasa but Sangakkara refused to use the toss as an excuse. "Winning tosses will not decide a match. On a pitch like this, had we played better cricket and done our basics especially in batting, we could have changed the decision."
And even in defeat there were elements of Sri Lanka's performance that pleased him including the role the spinners played in the Pakistan innings and how Silva overcame his sluggish start to give the home side a chance late in the chase. "[The spinners] were outstanding. The rest of the fast bowlers started off a bit shakily but I think we came back to the game pretty well," he said. "The opening partnership was great and the way Chamara Silva batted.
"Kulasekara again proved he can handle the bat well and Angelo Mathews unfortunately didn't have enough time to get himself set. When we were so far behind it is easy to say that's it and walk away from the game. But the way we fought it out and how close we came is I think we can do them.
"Pakistan are a very good side and well balanced. They showed today that they got a lot of pride also. Everyone writes off a team at their peril and cricket has a lot of surprises. Today they played better cricket than us all round."