ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Sri Lanka v New Zealand, semi-final, World Cup 2011

Sangakkara praises middle-order

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

March 30, 2011

Comments: 29 | Text size: A | A

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara praised his brittle middle-order batting for carrying his team to the final of the World Cup after they beat New Zealand by five wickets in Colombo on Tuesday. Chasing New Zealand's moderate total of 217, Sri Lanka were cruising to victory at 160 for 1 when a sudden top-order collapse - four wickets fell for 25 runs - left them looking vulnerable, before the experience of Thilan Samaraweera and the flair of Angelo Mathews (batting with a runner due to a thigh strain) saw Sri Lanka through.

"The middle order won the match for us. I don't think it's anything to worry about," an elated Sangakkara said. "I always said if you give them the opportunity they would deliver. They got it today in very tense circumstances. We are very happy what they've done."

Samaraweera and Mathews added 35 crucial runs for the sixth wicket to carry Sri Lanka to their second successive World Cup final. They will meet the winners of Wednesday's second semi-final between India and Pakistan in the final on Saturday. Sangakkara blamed himself for not seeing Sri Lanka through to victory after the openers had got them off to a rapid start once again.

"The responsibility should have been on me and [Tillakaratne] Dilshan. Dilhan did his job and I should have seen the match through. I played one shot too many and our dismissals put a lot of pressure on the middle order and they came out very well.

"We got tensed in the end basically because Dilshan and I should have finished it off or got as close as possible at least to the 200 mark. We let that opportunity go and put the side under a bit of pressure. Dilshan batted brilliantly, he and Upul (Tharanga) gave us another great start. Upul was out to a fantastic catch by Jesse Ryder when he was batting beautifully.

Thilan Samaraweera and Mahela Jayawardene are ecstatic after the victory, Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 1st semi-final, World Cup 2011, Colombo, March 29, 2011
Sangakkara: The middle order won the match for us. I don't think it's anything to worry about. © AFP

"My job was to hang around with Dilshan and build a partnership, but with two down and 60 runs to go on hindsight it was good for the middle order to show us what they can do as well. Thilan did exactly what was expected of him, Chamara Silva chipped in and Angelo Mathews as usual finished it up for us."

It was the second time in successive knockout matches that Sri Lanka had chased and won under lights. "We won two matches chasing because we lost the toss not because of anything else. If we had won the toss we would have batted first," Sangakkara said. "Chasing and winning does a lot more for your confidence than batting first and defending because you got the bowling attack to defend. You just need to see off ourselves how well we do in a chase especially in two crunch games. I thought New Zealand adapted to the conditions a lot better.

"They always have the variety to trouble us at home because they have the bits and pieces cricketers and quality spinners. But today the wicket was really great it didn't take a huge amount of spin and actually the seam bowlers were a bit more difficult to attack than spin."

Reaching a World Cup final was the culmination of a long journey and careful planning, Sangakkara said. "We planned for it for over two years. We missed a great opportunity in 2007. Ours was to recreate those opportunities in 2011 and to be there is very special for us. If we had not won the World Cup in 1996 we wouldn't have come to this level. We must thank players like Murali [Muralitharan], Vaasy [Chaminda Vaas], Sanath [Sanath Jayasuriya], Aravinda de Silva and Arjuna [Ranatunga].

"From that winning side only one member is with us and that is Murali. The amount of input he has given to us we cannot measure. If you take his bowling and his character he has played a big part in our cricket. Not only the players but the rest of Sri Lanka look at him as someone special."

The game was Muralitharan's final appearance in an ODI at home and he was rightfully given a lap of honour at the end of the match. "It was a bit emotional because it was the last game we were playing in front of our home crowd. The next match is not going to be here. It was a very special moment for us and even more so because it is the last time Murali will ever play an ODI. When the magnitude of that occasion hits you it kind of overwhelms you."

In his farewell Test against India last year, Muralitharan took his 800th wicket with the last ball he bowled in Test cricket. Against New Zealand, he again took a wicket off the final ball he bowled in his final ODI appearance at home.

"The good thing about Murali is he has no ego and he is a great team man," Sangakarra said. "Why these kind of fairytale endings keep happening to him is because he is a great human being. He has a great heart, he is an honest hardworking guy and he has no pretenses about it. When he is such a nice guy good things happen to him."

Looking ahead at the final on Saturday, Sangakkara said, "Kicking off from here it is easy to get carried away. We won a semi-final but we haven't won a final. We are in the final, we need to keep our heads down and keep playing good cricket. There is a lot of work to do in the next three days to play in the biggest match of our lives.

"It means a great deal especially in a new future that is envisioned for Sri Lanka. For us to be in this position, to host a World Cup and for the Sri Lankan team to get into a final it bodes well for the future of our country. Cricket's always been the panacea that's healed all wounds in Sri Lanka. Whenever cricket is played it seems as if life was back to normal. We carry that responsible job and it has been with us whenever we played. We understand the gravity of work but we also understand what privilege it is to be able to represent our country.

"Every single match we play is for our country. What people outside don't see is the greatest pride we have when we don our national colours. You go to the dressing room and there is a national flag with every player above their seat before we go out to play."

RSS Feeds: Sa'adi Thawfeeq


Comments: 29 
. Your ESPN name '' will be used to display your comments. Please click here to edit this.
Comments have now been closed for this article

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 31, 2011, 6:58 GMT)

Agreed 100% with Priyantha Gunaratna. Even in the semi-final against NZ, Thilan's contribution was great. Contribution is something which is not always measured in numbers.

Posted by R on (March 31, 2011, 5:45 GMT)

Just to comment on the article esp Sanga's comment, as much respect I have for our captain, i should say that he is playing cat and mouse. It is quite apparent that he know our middle order is struggling but as a captain he is doing the right thing by having faith in them and hoping that they do it. But I have to say I am not very confident that this shaky middle order would do it time and time again. Hence we need some changes made. Charmara should go, apparently he can play spin v.well but oppositions these days study your weaknesses and hence vettori had tim and mckay bowling at charmara and we saw the result. Matthews was our saviour who released the pressue, saramaraweera did his job of holding on to his wicket which is very important, I think Kapu would fit in nicely (as long as he puts his head down and concentrates). MY selection: Tharanga, Dilly,Sanga, Mahela, Samaraweera, Kapu, Angelo, Kulasekara, Herath, Malinga, Murali. Means we bat to no.10 coz Kula and Herath can bat too

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 31, 2011, 5:33 GMT)

from my point of view...chamara silva should drop from playing 11. and should be include chamara kapugedera for chamara silva... then only milddle order batting line up would be strenth...if its happen..there is possibility to win the title of 2011 world cup for sri lanka.........

Posted by R on (March 31, 2011, 5:31 GMT)

Even though I would discourage major changes to the team that won the semi, I think we need to decide the team based on certain aspects. For a start I think Kula needs to come back in place of mendis/herath (probably mendis because indians have learnt to play him well now), and kula can swin the bowl early and shewag is quite vulnerable to swing early on. since manlinga is not expectd to ball more than 4 overs at start and matthews may not bowl after injury kula is a must as the only pace bowler to start off the innings. I hate to say this but I think chamara should go, I realize making a major change in the finals is not great but I am hoping kapu being called into the finals has the right head to step up and deliver. Chamara is struggling and in my opinion is causing unnecessary pressure for the rest of the middle order. I believe kapu is also a technically sound and an aggresive batman hence can do the tissara perera job if needed. ALL THE BEST TO OUR BOYZ

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 31, 2011, 2:53 GMT)

Even when wickets were collapsing I really believed the same which sanga says. We could not not see the beauty of middle oder as they had not got right opportunities. We can see our first 3 in the top of the table & mahela in the middle that tells the story. Well I do feel we have to drop Chamara in Finals & get Thisara in.We have to play with talent as well as luck.you know what i mean.

It is hard to beat even Zimbabwe in their home. Now we are into it. Why not if will do it. let's pump all our energies to this legendaries. Good luck guys.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 31, 2011, 2:28 GMT)

Chamara Silva has a limited array of strokes and he takes long time to settle down and is not that good at rotating the strike. Unfortunately it was Kapu's inconsistency with the bat that cost him his place. Like I said before do not use insulting words like the loser tag to refer to our players. Who knows Mathews may not be able to recover from his injury and we may be forced to rely on Silva.

Posted by Duminda on (March 31, 2011, 0:42 GMT)

So it's India then… I have predicted this long before. It was very good and very important at least Sri Lanka had a one match in the same ground (Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai) where the WC Finals will be. So Sanga and the crew must have had a good look at the pitch, weather, light conditions, wind factor etc.

Anyway Sri Lanka will beat India in Cricket WC Finals 2011! Period.

All the best to LANKAN LIONS!!!

Posted by sl on (March 30, 2011, 23:59 GMT)

Sri Lanka Should drop Chamara Silva and play Kapugedara or Perera. I can't believe Chamara is still playing, he should have been dropped after the Pakistan game.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 30, 2011, 22:27 GMT)

Sanga and the Tean All the Very Best for you and the team for the Finals on Saturday the 2nd April 2011 We all know you and the team will bring the ICC 2011 World Cup back Home to Sri Lanka. As per Sewag and Sachin just bolw wicket to wicket and have the short mid wicket area covered they both love to flick to the leg side early in the Innings don't give them room to extend their arms when batting try this method and see the answer you and the Team will have also block the V Best of Luck Boys Will be watching you Ball by Ball Live from Toronto.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 30, 2011, 20:20 GMT)

WPDDESILVA who says Samaraweera should not play after this world cup has a very short memory. He is our most consistent and relibale test batsman. He also has two ODI hundreds in short ODI career. The stability he provides in the middle order is very important. The selectors are very knowledgeable and they have considered all aspects of the game in naming the 15 man squad. Thisara Perera is only a slogger and is very weak player of pace bowling. He cannot replace a batsman. Ajantha Mendis is the most economical bowler from all teams in this tournament. We should not use insulting terms to refer to our players. This is the time to encourage them to play at their best. Selectors cannot satisfy every Tom Dick and Harry.

Email Feedback Print
Sa'adi ThawfeeqClose
News | Features Last 3 days
  • No stories yet
News | Features Last 3 days
  • No stories yet

World Cup Videos