Sangakkara eyeing all-Asian final
Kumar Sangakkara has said that Sri Lanka have every chance of making it an all-subcontinental final in the 2011 World Cup
Kumar Sangakkara has said that Sri Lanka have every chance of making it an all-subcontinental final in the World Cup if "we keep our heads down and make sure we cover all the bases we have to cover".
One team from the subcontinent has made every final since 1992, and with India taking on Pakistan in the other semi-final, that trend will continue. But if Sri Lanka can beat New Zealand in the other semi-final in Colombo on March 29, it will mark the first final to feature two Asian teams.
"We've shown everyone what a good side we are and to do that we got to play good cricket." Sangakkara said. "Psychological advantages and all of that comes second place when it comes to playing proper cricket and good performance on the field. On Asian pitches fitness counts a lot, that's one of the major factors you got to reckon playing in this heat."
One of the things that have worked for Sri Lanka is their spin department headed by Muthiah Muralitharan, who is playing his last World Cup before retiring from one-day cricket. The team sacrificed the pace of Nuwan Kulasekara and went with three frontline spinners against England, and the combination turned out to be the correct one.
"Playing three spinners proved successful." Sangakkara said. "All the bowlers bowled well to get wickets. We made the decision in the last minute to play three spinners. Today the wicket had dried out very nicely so it made the decision very much easier.
"Spin is our strength but at the same time we had some wonderful fast bowlers coming through over the last two years like Lasith Malinga, Kulasekara, Dilhara Fernando, all these guys have a part to play depending on the opposition and the wickets. We try and keep ourselves unpredictable as a bowling side in this kind of tournament. We got the variety in our attack to do that."
Sangakkara also praised his openers, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga, who both made centuries as Sri Lanka chased 230 without losing a wicket. "It requires special performance to win big games and in that aspect Dilshan and Tharanga combined to give that little spark of inspiration. They were absolutely magnificent and ruthless.
"They were cramping up a bit and they could have thrown it away at that time but it shows how hungry they were to do well and finish it off when they had that opportunity."
Dilshan opened the bowling as well and Sangakkara said it was a deliberate strategy to target the England captain. "He [Dilshan] bowls very well to left-handers and sometimes makes the new ball turn. With Andrew Strauss being a left-hander and not having a great history against spin our first option was to throw the ball to Dilshan and see whether he can do something for us. He did and on the field he's been the best in this whole tournament and his batting was just unbelievable. Today he showed as the guy who shouldered most of the responsibilities from start to finish"
Sangakkara stated that his side needed to improve their fielding after three easy catches were put down off Eoin Morgan, who went on to score a fifty.
"We got brush up on our fielding and make sure that we don't give the opposition that many chances especially one batsman and one of their key players," Sangakkara said. "Except for the three catches the rest of the fielding was pretty good. Missing catches you can't do anything about. If you miss a catch you should not let your body language go negative but stay positive and look for the next opportunity and keep charging in and stay in the game."
Sangakkara also said that Muralitharan would be okay for the semi-final clash against New Zealand. "He's pulled up stiff. He's had a tough couple of weeks and hopefully we'll have him 100% for our next game."