We have to be aggressive with bat and ball - Mahela
Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardena said that his dynamic team is
ready to produce the brand of cricket which they dished out in 1996 in
their attempt to win the ninth edition of the ICC World Cup which gets
underway on March 13 in the West Indies.
The elegant right hander said that this years World Cup in the
Caribbean is wide open and each and every team participating in the
tournament has a chance of lifting the title.
Jayawardena however said that the only way Sri Lanka could regain the
trophy is by playing their own brand of cricket similar to the 1996
performance which stunned the cricketing world.
The 1996 World Cup tournament will be remembered as much for Sri
Lanka's triumph with bold and innovative batting tactics where the
combination of Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana tore the
bowling during the first 15 overs of the innings.
Sri Lanka were quick to adapt to the conditions and made the most of
the 15-overs fielding restrictions, thanks to openers Jayasuriya and
Kaluwitharana who demoralised the opposition with over-the-top hitting.
Those tactics stood Sri Lanka in good stead and Jayasuriya was named man
of the tournament for redefining batting in the opening 15 overs.
In fact Sanath Jayasuriya together with Marvan Atapattu, Muttiah
Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas are the only surviving members of that
1996 team, who will be playing probably in their last World Cup in the
West Indies, like so many other players from different countries.
Skipper Jayawardena a veteran of 236 one day internationals admitted
that the key to his teams success will be to be more aggressive with
both bat and ball and they need to really get on top of their opponents
right from the beginning.
"We have been playing a pretty exciting brand of cricket in the past
couple of years, as our results have shown. Lot of guys have put a lot
of effort and spent lot of time for us to be in the position that we are
The World Cup is totally a different ball game all together. We got
to realise that there is a job in hand and make sure that we keep
focusing that and play some really good cricket" added Jayawardena.
The fifteen member Sri Lankan squad led by Mahela Jayawardena will
leave for the West Indies today and will play two warm up matches ahead
of their opening fixture against Bermuda on March 15 at Port of Spain in
The official warm up programme will be contested from March 5 to 9
before the tournament officially opens on March 11 at the Trelawny Multi
Purpose Stadium in Jamaica.
The Sri Lankan captain also said that his teams recent 2-1 defeat to
India in the four match one day series has no relevance for a big event
such as the World Cup. "Losing matches is not an issue, but we must make
sure that we do not repeat those mistake the next time.
If we can learn something from them and bounce back, that's the sign
of a good side and that's what we have been doing during the last twelve
Skipper Jayawardena also said that the performances in India will not
anyway effect the team psychologically as the conditions in the West
Indies will be completely different.
"losing matches obviously make a poor card. India obviously was a big
challenge for us, but I thought we played some really good cricket. But
they (India) also played some very smart cricket and the better team won
at the end".
"We made a couple of mistakes which cost us that series. But again,
there were lot of good things that came out of that tournament. We tried
few players in different positions, we tried a few different
combinations and everything worked out pretty well for us. So we are
quite happy with the outcome of that tourney" Jayawardene added.
The reentry of two of Sri Lanka's premier bowlers Chaminda Vaas and
Muttiah Muralitharan will certainly add more muscle into their bowling
"Vaas and Murali coming back into the side is a huge push and the duo
needed the necessary break. We did feel the absence and the experience
of Vaas and Murali in India but the way the other bowlers performed was
a good investment for the future".
The Sri Lankan captain believes Sanath Jayasuriya, whose early
innings of big hitting wowed fans 11 years ago will have another major
role to play in the Caribbean with their opening match against Bermuda
on March 15.
Sri Lanka's second match will be against Bangladesh on March 21 at
the Queen's Park Oval and will take on India in the final league match
on March 23 at the same venue.
Before that they will also play two warm up matches against Scotland
on March 5 and against New Zealand on March 9 with both games scheduled
to be played in Barbados.