Sangakkara quietly confident ahead of ODIs
Kumar Sangakkara knows his side has the momentum and he is aware Australia are struggling, but he is not getting carried away with the idea of leading Sri Lanka to their first series victory in Australia`
Kumar Sangakkara knows his side has the momentum and he is aware Australia are struggling, but he is not getting carried away with the idea of leading Sri Lanka to their first series victory in Australia. The visitors dominated Sunday's Twenty20 match in Perth and on Wednesday they will begin their 50-over campaign against an Australian outfit missing Ricky Ponting. Only South Africa have a better win-loss ratio than Sri Lanka in 2010, while Australia are sitting third, despite their disappointing recent form. The Sri Lankans are the third-ranked ODI side but they can jump into second position if everything falls into place during this series, even if South Africa beat Pakistan in the UAE.
"The confidence is high and good, but at the same time we understand it's a different format," Sangakkara said. "Basically we're trying to go back to the drawing board and see what we can do better, what the challenges will be out there tomorrow. I'm sure the Aussies will be trying to come at us even harder after the Twenty20, so we've got to be ready for that.
"We'll look forward to each game with a lot of anticipation. No matter what happens in the series this is going to be a great experience for us. We're playing the best one-day side in the world. We're basically out here to take on that gauntlet and see whether we can come out on top."
As well as the opportunity to challenge the reigning World Cup holders, the trip gives Sri Lanka a chance to refine their preferred side ahead of next year's World Cup on the subcontinent. One of the most impressive things about their Twenty20 win was the efforts of less experienced players, including the Man of the Match Suraj Randiv.
The presence of Muttiah Muralitharan means Randiv won't necessarily play all three matches, but he is one of several newer squad members around whom the Sri Lankans are planning their future. Sangakkara said there should be opportunities during the ODIs for some of the less experienced players, who will be pushing for World Cup selection.
"Suraj Randiv has been with us not even a year now," he said. "He has improved in leaps and bounds, starting as a one-day offspinner and then becoming our premier spinner in Test cricket once Murali retired.
"Jeevan Mendis, a left-hand middle-order batsman who bowls spin for us, Thisara Perera, Dammika Prasad, who's been with us for a while - all these guys are very good, able players who have proven themselves over the last two years in the level below international cricket and are here doing a lot of good things for us."
The Australians also have some new faces, including the fast man Mitchell Starc, the allrounder John Hastings and the spinner Xavier Doherty, but Sangakkara was not worried about his side being surprised by the unfamiliar men. "There are quite a few new guys," he said, "but we're trying to concentrate a lot more on what our strengths are."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at Cricinfo