ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
New Zealand v Sri Lanka, World Cup 2011, Mumbai
Sangakkara keeps faith in inconsistent middle order
Nagraj Gollapudi in Mumbai
March 17, 2011
Kumar Sangakkara is not yet sweating over an inconsistent Sri Lankan middle order. Even a dependable batsman like Mahela Jayawardene has stuttered in the World Cup, logging just 134 runs in four completed innings, 100 of which came against Canada. In three innings Angelo Mathews has 39, Thilan Samaraweera 61, Thisara Perera 22 and Chamara Silva has 61 from two innings including a half-century.
Except in the rain-abandoned match against Australia, Pakistan are the only strong opponent Sri Lanka have faced so far. Chasing a challenging total of 277, Sri Lanka got off to a good start with Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga adding 76, but the hosts lost control immediately as four wickets fell for just 20 runs in seven overs. Sri Lanka have just one match left to repair those mistakes before the quarterfinals.
"When the time comes, the guys will step up," Sangakkara said, shrugging off the idea that the middle order had some work to do. "We had probably one bad game against Pakistan. We looked pretty solid against Australia and the other games, the middle order didn't have much to do. So the real test will come and the guys are very capable of stepping up in those games for us."
The fact that batsmen in the lower middle order - Mathews, Perera, Silva - have not spent enough time in the middle is not causing any distress for Sangakkara. "If we can win matches with just the top order, I think that is good enough for us. But if the middle order needs to come in, that's why they are selected because they're good enough to do the job. Failures do happen. So that's the way cricket goes. You take those opportunities and do as much as you can. If you cannot be successful, you try and learn and get better."
Sangakkara said it was important the Sri Lanka don't lose the focus going into the knockouts. "You know, when you play in a World Cup, past doesn't really matter and it's exactly what you do when the game comes. For us, it's going back to the basics and probably we cover all our bases and take the opportunity."
Many captains, including Ross Taylor, Sangakkara's counterpart for tomorrow's game, have stressed that a victory in the final group clash would provide the momentum going into the quarterfinals. Sangakkara differs. "Every side likes to build momentum and take it into the really important stages. At the same time sides also might not win in the final first-round game and won't be too much worried about it. The quarters, semis and the finals are the one that really count. Therefore, what happens just before does not really matter, unless it takes psychological toll on that particular side."