ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Sri Lanka v England, World Cup 2011, Colombo

Chasing woes ease at the Premadasa

Sidharth Monga

March 23, 2011

Comments: 44 | Text size: A | A

An aerial view of the R Premadasa stadium, Sri Lanka v Pakistan, World Cup, Group A, Colombo, February 26, 2011
While chasing might not be the favourite thing to do at the Premadasa, a relaid track and new floodlights mean it is not quite the devil either © Getty Images
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On first look, the R Premadasa stadium doesn't seem to be the ideal venue for the knockout games of a tournament as big as the World Cup. Or any day-night ODI for that matter. Far too often are the odds stacked heavily against sides chasing under the floodlights, when the ball starts doing the kind of crazy things it hadn't in the first half of the game. In the last decade, 29 out of the 38 finished games featuring the top teams here were won by the team winning the toss, second only to Newlands in that aspect. There is no guessing what teams do here the moment they win the toss.

With the World Cup, however, like many other aspects in quite a few of the other stadiums in the subcontinent, there seems to have been a massive improvement. Already it is there for all to see that while chasing might not be the favourite thing to do here, it is not quite the devil either. Even if the games involving the minnows in this World Cup are not to be included, the league game between Sri Lanka and Pakistan is a big indicator. In the good old days of the Premadasa, Pakistan's 277 would have been a difficult target, but Sri Lanka seemed to be on track until they lost their way towards the end.

The most important thing, both in that game and Pakistan's successful chase against Australia, was that the new ball didn't jag around as much as it used to do in the classical Premadasa-under-the-lights days. Anuruddha Polonowita, Sri Lanka's chief groundsman, has an explanation for why this used to happen and why it is less likely to happen now that the square has been relaid.

"We have raised the pitch three-and-a-half-feet from the perimeter of the boundary," Polonowita said. "Earlier we had a problem those days. This is a low-lying area. This was a marshy land, which was filled with garbage. So in the evening we used to get a little bit of moisture coming out. So we raised it by three-and-a-half feet, and I think it has settled down now. In the evening, that moisture is not coming out. That was the main reason [for the drastic change in conditions under lights]."

Mahela Jayawardene, who has played a fair amount of his ODI cricket here, has another reason. "The floodlights were one of the reasons teams struggled to chase at night at the ground, as they couldn't pick the ball on occasion," he wrote in his column. "Since the revamp, with new lights and a relaid track, things have certainly eased out."

Trevor Bayliss, Sri Lanka's coach, shares the view. "In the past it [the toss] has been important," Bayliss said. "The wickets since have been relaid. They are a lot better now, a lot easier to bat second than it was two to three years ago. We batted second against Pakistan, and made 260, but we had a bad 20 overs. Whatever score is made in the first innings, the team batting second is quite capable of knocking those runs off.

"Whether it gets a little bit cooler and atmosphere makes the ball move around a little bit, there is no real evidence of that. It is a bit more difficult to bat second. I think the wicket probably slows up a little bit, makes it more difficult for batting, but more than anything it's the mindset. We were happy to score 260 runs against Pakistan in that first game. Even though we did lose, we knew there was improvement, and it gives us confidence for this game."

A target of 225 and over against a major opposition in a day-night game at the Premadasa has been a fortress that has not been conquered often, but over the next week or so that frontier might be no more. Even if that doesn't happen - although it will be a great stage to do so in a knockout game of a World Cup - the players are a bit more assured of the fairness of the conditions.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 44 
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Posted by hukka on (March 26, 2011, 15:09 GMT)

This shaping up to be a single sided game and NZ surely going to have tough time against SL in semi finals for sure.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 26, 2011, 14:14 GMT)

India will never come to the final. Sl and Pak will meet.

Posted by Mark on (March 26, 2011, 13:37 GMT)

All England have to do to slow SL down is bowl is to bowl bouncers at Dilshan. He's like Sehwag and Tendulkar in being a post-bouncer restriction batsmen with a wide array of off-side shots but, except when premeditated, incapable of playing the pull or hook with any control. The last Sri Lankan player (I've seen) who could play the hook and pull with absolute control was Aravinda De Silva.

Posted by ahk on (March 26, 2011, 13:21 GMT)

Obviously Srilanka has the necessary batting tools and means to reach the target of 229 in their own backyard. The SL batsman are well adapt to the conditions, brought up on low, slow turners. They are talented and skillful. but it is not so much the talent or skills which count but the GUTS and Daring to overcome pressure at tight junctions which will decide the outcome.

Remember UMAR AKMAL and YUVI against Aussies. They batted like men possessed. Eng is much like Aus now. So unless you counter punch in tight situation, with calculated risk, you are bound to get knocked out..literally from the WC tournament. So Sanga and company... a couple of you should do what Akmal and Yuvi did.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 26, 2011, 13:16 GMT)

You will witness today Srilanka will be knocked out by England and it's going to England Vs India and the chockers England will lose their 4th World cup final. Srilanka heavily depend on Sangakarra and Mahela and if England get them out cheaply you will see England will win with a big margin otherwise with a small margin but the win belongs to England utimately.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 26, 2011, 13:10 GMT)

This is anybodys game. England have lost to minnows in the qualifying rounds but have beaten all good teams and drawn against India chasing a target of 338. You never know England and todays match might be a replica of yesterdays result of the New Zealand VS South Africa match. Lets wait and watch.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 26, 2011, 13:04 GMT)

Sorry Sachid, reserve days have been kept in case of rain washing out a game, thats what Harsha Bhogle mentioned during league fixtures.

Posted by H on (March 26, 2011, 12:25 GMT)

My hearty wishes for the great England. They would face difficulties while playing on Srilankan grounds, but brave England would win.

Posted by Abdul Wahab on (March 26, 2011, 7:51 GMT)

This is going to be an interesting game, There will be many Saudis watching this game, Best of luck to both teams.

Abdul Wahab Al Sudais

Posted by Anand on (March 26, 2011, 7:45 GMT)

If the match is abandoned due to bad weather, or rain, the team which finished at a better position in the respective group advances to the semi-final. The same rule applies for the semi-finals as well.

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