Crucial game for both teams, Sri Lanka ready for England

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Sri Lanka head coach Marvan Atapattu expects his team to peak at the right time. Sri Lanka head coach Marvan Atapattu expects his team to peak at the right time.

WELLINGTON: If it’s anything Sunday’s Pool A World Cup match between Sri Lanka and England will be crucial for both sides at they front up at Westpac Stadium.

For Sri Lanka a win will definitely ensure them a quarter-final place with two games to play against Australia and Scotland, while for England a defeat would mean they may have to pack up and look at the possibility of heading for home.

Sri Lanka after their loss to New Zealand have followed it up with wins over Afghanistan and Bangladesh and are sitting pretty in second position of the Pool A table with four points, while England are second from the bottom of the table with one win (against Scotland) and two defeats and have two points.

Sri Lanka didn’t practice on Saturday following their exhaustive travelling schedule from Melbourne that saw them arrive in Wellington only on Friday afternoon.

“The fatigue management is important to getting the guys on the field, so we gave them a day off,” said Sri Lanka coach Marvan Atapattu at the post-match media conference held at the Test venue Basin Reserve.
Atapattu said that fielding was still a concern and that the team was working very hard to improve on it.

“It is a concern, no doubt, especially the catching, and obviously when we started off with two the Test matches. A catch here at the Basin Reserve cost us a Test match,” said Atapattu. “Having said that, we have had good times, brilliant times, and we have had times that we weren’t very happy about. I think striking a balance on a long tour like this it’s important that we manage people and keep them fresh.

“We have taken a step forward, giving people a rest, trying to have them fresh for games like for tomorrow. You’ve got to understand that we have a few wicket keepers in the side, but having said that we certainly have room for improvement in that area.”
Atapattu didn’t want to commit himself to saying that the team was peaking at the right time.

“Certainly, the last two games have been good for us, although we came very close. It was a very close game against Afghanistan... We would like to take it game by game at this stage. We know in World Cups every game is important, and peaking at the right time is the most important thing. We as a group believe in that, and we think game by game, and hopefully we’ll have a good result tomorrow.”

Talking of building confidence in the players Atapattu stated, “With the skill levels that they have, with the different skills that they bring, it’s almost easier because you aren’t copying anybody or you are not looking to see what the other is doing in terms of technique, thinking and preparation. He has his own way of doing things, and we encourage that,” said Atapattu.

“Natural talent is something that we always encourage. It’s not all about technique. If somebody has the flair and the confidence to go and do it on the big stage, in a big competition, without any fear of failure, we always encourage that,” he said.
The Lankan head coach was of the opinion that Thisara Perera had a big role to perform as an all-rounder for the team’s success.  

“Thisara is a person who has got fivers in Australia in previous tours, so we would like to think that he’s a bowler who could give us 10 overs and he has done it more than a couple of times,” said Atapattu,

“And when he does that he picks wickets. In the team we have the confidence of him being a genuine all-rounder at seven who can finish matches for us like in the game at Dunedin and then bowl his quota and pick a few wickets.”

Upul Tharanga joining the squad as replacement for injured Jeevan Mendis has given Sri Lanka an additional batsman to play around with in their batting. 

“We opted for him knowing that he can bat anywhere with the experience and the stats that he has given us earlier. If we want to play him, it could be from Nos. 1 to 7 any place,” said Atapattu who did not give any indication that he was lined up for tomorrow’s game.

Atapattu said that his team was wary of England although they have had a poor tournament so far.“They are a balanced side. I don’t think they can be very happy about how things have unrolled for them in the recent past. But having said that they have qualified in the final against Australia in Australia. That’s always a positive,” said Atapattu. “Having mentioned about peaking at the right time, I think India is a classic example. You need performance against good opposition and it would obviously boost the side up. I’m sure England is looking forward to that. It can be their batting; they’ve got some terrific batsmen in their first seven, and if not, they’ve got the best seam attack on the day.”

England have been strengthened for the World Cup with the return of their two most experienced fast bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad who were both forced to miss the ODI series played in Sri Lanka due to injuries.
England fast bowler Chris Woakes knows how important a game it is for his team if they are to remain in contention in the World Cup.

“It’s important that we do show up against the big teams. Tomorrow obviously is a big game having already lost two in the tournament already,” said Woakes. “Sri Lanka are a good side, so we know we’ve got to be on our game tomorrow. We want to get through to the quarter-finals and you’re going to have to beat big teams on the way.”

England certainly don’t have very good memories of Westpac Stadium for nine days ago they were bundled out for 123 by New Zealand falling to the inswinging deliveries of Tim Southee who ended up taking seven wickets, the best by a New Zealand bowler in this format.

“We’ve got a good opportunity to turn things around really. Obviously last time we were there it didn’t exactly go to plan,” said Woakes. “It’s hard to read too much into that game, I suppose. We were pretty poor. We obviously didn’t get a total on the board, and Tim Southee bowled exceptionally well, as well. Hopefully we’re past that now and can put that behind us. Tomorrow is obviously a big opportunity for us and show the people what we can do by putting on a solid performance.”

Wellington like Hambantota is very windy and the key thing is for the bowlers to be able to control the ball against such high speed winds. The forecast is for a sunny day with maximum temperatures at 22.

Last modified on Saturday, 28 February 2015 22:11

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