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Atapattu expresses confidence as team gears up for q’final

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SYDNEY: Sri Lanka head coach Marvan Atapattu expressed confidence that his team was geared up for the challenge as they come upto the knockout stage of the 2015 cricket World Cup.

Sri Lanka are likely to have South Africa as their quarter-final opponents at the SCG on Wednesday and Atapattu stated,” We don’t have an option. We’re geared up for South Africa – it’s most likely them. We’re getting ourselves ready. Of course knowing the opposition that you’re going to play is good. We are very honestly thinking South Africa, and we’re getting ready for that.”

Atapattu held the belief that his players were capable of performing when it mattered.

“I’ve been with these players for four years now, and we’ve come to so many big tournament matches where we have to win. I’ve seen people raise their game, and I’ve seen people raise the whole team,” said Atapattu.

“I see no difference this time, and because I’ve seen that I have confidence in these guys doing it again. When it comes to working together, pulling things together and working towards a common goal, we’re among the best.

“We all know what we are capable of when it comes to batting. It’s just a matter of clicking and winning at the right time. Big games bring out the best of big players. Then we start to see some of the others also chipping in with useful scores, getting the runs that we required at different times,” he said.

“We would like to take this game as a fresh game for us. We’d like to start from scratch and build up confidence as the game progresses, in whatever we do – bat or bowl first. More importantly, we’ve got to be able to absorb pressure, be calm and go about doing our roles to the best that we can.”

In the past it has been proved that Sri Lanka can absorb the pressure of playing in a knockout than South Africa.

“It tells you that we’ve got a lot of experience. If you count the number of matches that all of us have had, within the 15, it’s more than any other team in the competition. So for them having been so long in the system, and played so many World Cups and knockout games, they know how to cope with pressure, and they know exactly how to prepare for that,” said Atapattu.

He defended the lack of power hitters in the side by saying: “When you have four guys out of seven firing that alone tells a story. You can’t have all seven guys to fire. In different competitions, people get into form and it’s their responsibility to take the team to big scores, and to ensure the chases are being done successfully. That has been happening, and that’s always a good sign.

“We would like to have everybody scoring and being in a good frame of mind. I think everybody is. It’s unfortunate to lose a player like (Dinesh) Chandimal in the middle. But we have more than a few experienced guys with Upul (Tharanga) and Kusal (Perera) coming into the middle.”

Atapattu said that Kusal Perera’s role in the side would be as a middle order batter.

“I always believe that if you’re good enough you should be able to bat anywhere from no. 1 to 7 without a problem. Given the other batsmen and what’s required for the team, it might be the case that he has to bat lower. If he is a good enough batsman – which I think he is – he’ll adapt to that and do the job successfully,” Atapattu said.

He was of the view that bowling in New Zealand and Australian conditions was not the easiest and Sri Lanka was not alone in that aspect.

“With restrictions on field placings it’s always a challenge. In a competition like this where cricket is looking to have a step up, you see bowlers come under a lot more pressure than in a normal tournament. That has been the case.”

Atapattu stated that he was happy the way Lasith Malinga was shaping up for the important contests ahead.

“He feels confident, which is the most important thing. You may not see the same speed that he bowled two or three years back, but that’s something that everybody, including the greats, have had to face,” said Atapattu. “Lasith is somebody who, come the big game, can rise up to that. He’s somebody that is looking forward to having a good performance. He’s a match-winner, and I’m sure he’ll live up to that.”

The good news for Sri Lanka was that left-arm spinner Rangana Herath had his stitches removed from his left index finger and was having his first bowl in the nets today.

Herath was forced to miss Sri Lanka’s matches against Australia and Scotland after injuring his hand against England two weeks ago.

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