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

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

Posted by Mark00 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 anwarhkhan 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   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   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   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 vglant 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 arawahab 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 sachid_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.

Posted by MMABD on (March 26, 2011, 7:33 GMT)

Todays Game gonna be a thirller for sure as Sri Lankas Long standing record of unpridictableness and englands new gained same status. Sri Lanka when it comes to important game they come prepaired poms are sams s them. its nice to see ppl like phoenixsteve who loves cricket - but most of the comments u see here are smelling the fear of meeting sri lanka at a latter stage of the tournement.

As sri lankans we blv in meeting the chalenges and winning the title not by expecting fellow strong side to be eliminated by others and grab the title, we dont have a fancy side which we could boast but Sanga is positive as always he is, that keeps SL spirit going

all the best for both teams and Then Lions go and roar at your own dens (and could call this as a battle of the lions :))

Posted by 777aditya on (March 26, 2011, 7:04 GMT)

Great to hear that there is no unfair advantage to the team winning the toss. This makes it an even contest to begin with. Like in yesterday's match of NZ vs RSA, everyone seems to be thinking that SL are going to win easily - England, as they have shown throughout this WC, can be real party crashers though. If England manage to beat SL today, they have a good chance against NZ as well and who knows what they can do in the final if they reach that far.

Posted by   on (March 26, 2011, 6:22 GMT)

It may be rain today, then what happen?

Posted by calvin_n on (March 26, 2011, 5:47 GMT)

I predict an England win..they will play out of their skins tomorrow.

Posted by   on (March 26, 2011, 2:21 GMT)

Srilankan team is not as good as earlier teams ,If they loose the toss and chase a score above 250,The English bowling will be on top,the weakness will come into picture

Posted by   on (March 26, 2011, 2:03 GMT)

I can't wait anymore to Eng trash SL.lol

Posted by john_dog on (March 26, 2011, 1:32 GMT)

Kugan Kn- Are you stupid or do you just not follow cricket? its clear that only either pakistan or india will goto the final because theyre playing at semis.. Your dumb we have a good team

Posted by vichan on (March 26, 2011, 0:46 GMT)

The vast majority of Sri Lankan fans seem to think victory in this match against England (and even against NZ) is a foregone conclusion. Would be great to see this arrogance given a wake-up-call!

Posted by mrklinkerpants on (March 25, 2011, 22:36 GMT)

Great to see so many writing England off before the game - the pressure and expectation is all on Sri Lanka and, as England have shown already in this World Cup, they have shocked the so-called 'fancied' sides and really raised their game.

The underdog tag will really suit them again - expect the unexpected!

Posted by courierpost on (March 25, 2011, 21:11 GMT)

NZ can upset SA so anything is possible

Posted by phoenixsteve on (March 25, 2011, 19:23 GMT)

This is set to be a great game. As an England fan I can see that SL start as favourites - and in many ways that helps England! If SL have a few setbacks (early wickets lost or an English opening thrash) the pressure will really be on! I'm hoping for an England victory- but having spent some time in wonderful Sri Lanka I won't be too upset if we lose this one! It's a great country with wonderful friendly people and maybe England have won enough for now? Whatever the outcome.... let's hope cricket is the winner! Good luck to both sides. COME ON ENGLAND!!!

Posted by   on (March 25, 2011, 17:58 GMT)

England have advantage in this game any ways,,,,,, if SL makes a pitch with grass on it so that it lasts for 100 overs,,,,,,, what will happen even SL wins the toss, likes of Anderson and co will swing the ball a lot as they r used to it,,,,, they will swing it under lights too as white ball swings under lights while its new.......

but i wud love SL winning the game easily...............

Posted by   on (March 25, 2011, 17:57 GMT)

should santh paly replace chamra silva pleas sl selector come back to santh at least these crucioal matheches

Posted by sediris on (March 25, 2011, 17:46 GMT)

SL - England Prediction. If SL bat first: SL will get 280, England will get 230 If England bat first: England will get 240, SL will get to 240 in 47 overs

Posted by RohanMarkJay on (March 25, 2011, 17:32 GMT)

C'mon Sri Lanka, this is without doubt the biggest game played in Sri Lanka for the last 28 years in front of their own home fans bar none. It would be an absolute tragedy I think if Sri Lanka lost to England tomorrow. Sri Lanka has a great chance to win the world cup. I sincerely hope they play brilliantly in front of their home fans and win the match convinceingly and move to the next round. Go Sri Lanka! All the best!

Posted by   on (March 25, 2011, 16:52 GMT)

I cant wait to see the Sri Lankan team selection for this match the perfect 11 will be to play this match... Sangakara, Dilshan, Tharanga, Mahela, Chamara Silva / Samraweera(Please dont play both of them),Mathews,Tissara,Kulasekara,Malinga,Murali,Mendis

Posted by   on (March 25, 2011, 16:48 GMT)

Toss is important than anything.

Posted by   on (March 25, 2011, 16:12 GMT)

we couldn't have asked for a better passage to the wc final than this year's....come on we should beat england and new zealand....i believe we have all the aspects to go on to win the wc, we just need to tinker a little bit...anjelo should bat at 5 not at 7 and either thisara should come in at 7...we have to leave out thilan or chamara (preferably chamara) this way we have an extra fast bowler as well in the side...we could also have murali, rangana and mendis all playing in the next 2 matches meaning we might have to leave out nuwan......we have to play to our positives and not the negatives...get in all the players who have been a positive in the wc so far...if our batting isn't strong enough then strengthen the bowling and fielding and make sure the top order plays well....come on sri lanka...you can do it....

Posted by   on (March 25, 2011, 0:34 GMT)

being a sri lankan, i think its difficult to win the world cup. seeing pakistan(vs WI) n india(vs AUS), the chance we will win the world cup is so small, we dont really have the best team, no depth in batting. we have only 4 big match players, dilli,tharanga, mahela,sanga. i think pakistan/india will reach finals n win the world cup. sad we dont have a competitive team this time.

Posted by   on (March 24, 2011, 21:00 GMT)

now the first two Q/F going as predicted, I am expecting the unexpected in one of the Q/F. This might be Srilanka going out due to premadasa night out woes or the famous or infamous choking tag of Southafricans haunting them. It feels Southafrica may prevail to S/F before that tend to happen. so is this the curse on srilanka then. Lets wait and watch

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (March 24, 2011, 10:22 GMT)

I need SL to play 3 spinners in this game plus 2 fast bowlers in Slinga and Mathiews.

Posted by stormy16 on (March 24, 2011, 7:04 GMT)

I think most sub-continental wickets gets hearder to chase but the RPS has been a joke. But as pointed out it may not be the same but its not the best one day wicket if plenty of runs is what your looking for. The strange thing for SL is one would have imagined they prepared a spinners track to their advantage and nullify the opposition seamers which is usually SL's weakness! For some reason both Pallekela and RPS seem to have something for the seamers which makes it a better contest but gives away the home advantage.

Posted by Ellersliepresidents on (March 24, 2011, 5:44 GMT)

Better to win the toss since its rolled mud

Posted by KingOwl on (March 23, 2011, 22:44 GMT)

If SL played this match on a traditional SL wicket, and it was a day game, SL would beat the day lights out of England, 9 times out of 10. But on this ground, it is anybody's guess. Sri Lanka Cricket adminstrators seem determined to hand the advantage back to the opposition.

Posted by TheBigFatFlapjack on (March 23, 2011, 19:56 GMT)

And i heard people say sri lankan grounds are flat roads!! No, except the pitch in SSC they're usually not. Bowlers do stand a chance to turn a game around. Hope Sri Lankan Cricket keeps the pitches the way they are at the moment.

Posted by KingOwl on (March 23, 2011, 18:36 GMT)

There are so many grounds in SL. I have no idea why this particular ground was chosen for the knock-outs. The changes in conditions may not be hugh now from day to night, but they are still there. With evenly matched teams, it still makes a big difference.

Posted by   on (March 23, 2011, 18:10 GMT)

Well, I hope for Sri Lanka's sake this is true, otherwise it increases the chances of them being knocked out by 50%

Posted by Yogi123 on (March 23, 2011, 16:25 GMT)

SriLanka will win this game magnificently

Posted by 9ST9 on (March 23, 2011, 16:13 GMT)

the subcontinent isn't exactly the place for a fair contest under lights - in some places the dew plays a part like mirpur and pallekale. At Premadasa it's the swing at dambulla it's the lights

Posted by   on (March 23, 2011, 15:05 GMT)

I sincerely hope RPS pitch will live up to the expectation of all of us. It is ridicules to watch day and night matches in RPS in the past. Still it feels like that. So let the better team win as this is the world cup QF not the team who wins to toss.

Posted by   on (March 23, 2011, 14:14 GMT)

If the toss is going to decide the Games why do you play in the night? After quarter final it is sensible to play a day game it would be fair by all. I thought Day/ Night game are for the convenience of the spectators every one knows after quarter finals you need not worry about the crowd. Sri Lankans and Indians would put leave to watch Cricket matches.

Posted by   on (March 23, 2011, 14:02 GMT)

Kettharama its not Kettharama any more and one of the best ground in Sri Lanka now Toss doesnt matter for this ground if you play to your strength then everything will be yours i hope sanga dont think about win the toss and bat first chase its good against the opption like Engalnd have poor bowling attack.. Best of to My Sri Lanka..

Posted by sanath007 on (March 23, 2011, 13:11 GMT)

I'm not so sure about that. I've seen Sanga lose lot of tosses here and SL have paid the price. A groundsman should prepare a wicket that lasts 100 overs. The problem batting second is not the seam movement but the amount of spin and unevenness of the bounce. Which means the wicket breaks up. Atlest leave some grass so the wicket would hold on for 100 overs. I don't want to see SL losing the toss and the match. Just prepare a fair wicket to both teams and SL would win easily

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (March 23, 2011, 13:09 GMT)

SL is a bit scared now because if they loose they might end up like against PAK. So they need to make sure players would not get demotivated if they loose the toss and ball first. Anyway SL is much stronger in the bowling than POMS so it would not make different bowling first or second. But batters have to do the job as Sl,s middle order is not firing.

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