The Sri Lankan cricketers are overjoyed that they have entered the Super Eight round of the International Cricket Council s World Cup Twenty20 tournament and have now set their sights on entering the semi-finals. When the Lankans arrived here, they faced an uphill task. They were in the toughest group with Australia and the West Indies. Australia and the West Indies are tough sides and beating them was not going to be easy.
But skipper Kumar Sangakkara said on the eve of the team s departure. We have beaten these two sides in other forms of the game, and if we play alright, there is no reason why we should not beat them . The Lankan s success was that they believed in themselves. Their attitude and approach was that the Aussies and the Windies were also humans and that if they played to form, wins would come.
And they did just that. When they took the field in both games, it was apparent by the body language, that they had that second to none feeling. That is how it should be, and it must be given continuity.
Skipper Kumar Sangakkara has fitted into the captaincy gloves quite admirably. He has good control and understanding with his teammates and it is apparent that they are supporting him in every move he makes and giving him 100 percent and more.
And those are the essentials for a team to succeed.
When it came to the crunch, it was apparent that the Aussies and the West Indies were not going to take us mere easy beats. They were aware of our potential and the ability to fight back,whatever the situation,especially when the chips are down.
The players who matter have all struck form and it is hoped they will give it continuity. The most successful has been opener Tillakaratne Dilshan. Since takng the onerous job of opener,he has obliged by always being in the runs.
In this tourney he has been the only batsman to score two fifties. From the first ball he has stepped on top gear and accelerated and does not seem to apply brakes at any time during his innings. He has based his bating on the fact that the ball is there to be hit, and that is his style.
Sanath Jayasuriya played a devastastating innings against the West Indies and gave them a dose of their own medicine. In fact the Windies were seeing another Chrys Gale riding again.
When Jayasuriya fires the sixes and fours look rocket launched. His timing and power hitting at times is even better than the batsmen from the Caribbean. He must make it his business to keep scoring.
Sangakkara too has been in the runs. But the disappointment has been that former Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardena has not struck a purple patch. He has it in to come good and the Super Eight games should see him in the runs.
As for the bowlers they were tight in the game against the Aussies,but conceded too many runs against the Windies. Spinner Ajantha Mendis has been the most consistent and the batsmen are finding it difficult to read him,off his hands and off the pitch.
True, Pakistan have a fine set of cricketers but that is on paper. They showed that they have it in them to hit back,like they did against the Netherlands to stay in the action after losing to England. But man to man the Lankans are the better team and that is how they must endeavour to stay.
This is how the Super Eight games would be played: June 12 Pakistan v Sri Lanka India v West Indies - Lord s June 13 West Indies v South Africa, New Zealand v Pakistan - Kennington Oval June 14 Ireland v Sri Lanka - India v England - Lord s June 15 Pakistan v Ireland, England v West Indies - Kennington Oval. June 16 New Zealand v Sri Lanka, South Africa v India - Trent Bridge,
Lord s Cricket Ground,