We are a better team than having to depend on others to qualify – Karunaratne | Daily News
Gayle v Malinga contest on the cards

We are a better team than having to depend on others to qualify – Karunaratne

Lasith Malinga
Lasith Malinga

DURHAM, Sunday – With his team virtually out of the 2019 World Cup semi-finals skipper Dimuth Karunaratne said that they were not a side to depend on other teams to make it to the last four.

Sri Lanka’s Test captain Karunaratne was pushed into the role of leading his team in the World Cup even though he had not played a single ODI since the last World Cup in 2015, but he spared no pains to explain where it had all gone wrong for his team.

“The batting is the main reason. We have played six matches and no one could get a hundred only a couple of fifties. If you want to compete with other teams you have to put runs on the board, that is the main problem,” said Karunaratne ahead of the match against West Indies here on Friday.

Universe Boss Chris Gayle at training ahead of the contest against Sri Lanka. – AFP

“We want to finish the World Cup on a high note. We still have an outside chance of making it to the semi-finals depending on how other teams fare. We had a good opportunity to perform well against South Africa and in the next two games and make it comfortably to the semi-finals. Now we are depending on other teams to see whether we can qualify for the semi-finals,” Karunaratne explained.

“We have the skill to compete with all the teams but we performed only in patches. Our batsmen didn’t bat as a unit, sometimes the top order failed and on other occasions the middle order, we never had an opportunity of performing as a batting unit, that’s why we are in this position having to depend on other teams for a semi-final place. Overall, if we had performed as a unit we had a good chance of making it to the semi-finals,” he said.

One of the problems Sri Lanka had been with their batsmen being unable to accelerate their score after the first 10-over power play.

“Against South Africa, Avishka (Fernando) and Kusal (Perera) got us a good start but we couldn’t continue the momentum because both of them got out quickly. After that the two new batters took time to settle down and (Faf) Du Plessis did some very good changes to the field. He got all the fielders in and never allowed us to take singles and built on the pressure,” said Karunaratne.

“Because our middle order had not scored runs they didn’t have the confidence to free their arms. They didn’t want to give wickets away and put the team under more pressure. That tactic didn’t work for us well. But as professional cricketers we must know how to get over those situations in our own individual way,” he said.

Another factor against Sri Lanka, Karunaratne pointed out was that his team had yet to top the 250-run mark in any of their matches played so far.

“We have not been able to score more than 250 in any of the games that is the key. On pitches of this nature if two batsmen get set they can easily chase those runs down. Every time we lose a wicket it becomes difficult to build partnerships. We cant’s score less than 250 and ask our bowlers to defend that total, it is difficult. As a batting unit me and the rest of the batsmen should take the responsibility to put up a big score,” said Karunaratne.

“West Indies are a quick scoring team. We have watched video of their batsmen and have plans how to get about their batting and how to handle their bowlers. If we put up a good score on the board I am confident our bowlers will deliver,” he said.

Karunaratne said that they were not planning any major changes to the team, but there is a possibility of Kasun Rajitha who has replaced Nuwan Pradeep in the squad being selected ahead of Suranga Lakmal who has not been in the best of his bowling form going wicketless for 102 runs in three matches.

“Lakmal bowled well but he was unlucky. This can happen to any bowler however well you bowl you may not get a wicket. We will look at the wicket which is a new one prepared for tomorrow’s match and with Rajitha’s skill decide whether he can fit into our plans,” said Karunaratne.

GAYLE v MALINGA

With Sri Lanka’s semi-final chances hanging virtually on a thread and West Indies out of the competition the focus when these two teams meet will be on the two stellar players in the short format Chris Gayle and Lasith Malinga.

A Gayle vs Malinga contest will be something to witness with both players having played against each other in the IPL. Malinga represented Mumbai Indians whom he bowled to victory over Chennai Super Kings in the final and Gayle played for Kings XI Punjab plundering 490 runs at a strike rate of 153.60.

West Indies coach Floyd Reifer said although his side was out of the World Cup there was a lot of cricket to play after it.

“It’s important for us to, you know, find the winning ways and find the winning formula going forward, so it is important for us to play this game as hard as possible. We want to create that winning culture. It has to start from somewhere. So we’re going to approach every game in a professional manner. The guys are still up for it. We’re good to go,” said Reifer at the pre-match press conference.

“We had a long conversation in the dressing room. We did a lot of soul-searching. It is important for us and important for the fans in the Caribbean as well, for us to put up the performances, even at the back end of the World Cup.”

“I think we didn’t seize the key moments in games. You look back at our tournament, we played well against Pakistan. We had Australia on the ropes.

New Zealand as well, you know. I thought we need to seize the key moments in the game. At crucial times we dropped a few crucial chances as well.

“And then collectively, we didn’t bat properly. So it’s just small things that we didn’t do, the one percenters that didn’t we do well. So these are the sort of things we discussed as a team.

The players are not comfortable with their performances, responsibility, those sort of conversations that we had in that team meeting. So going forward, I’m looking forward to seeing how the guys play in the next two games,” Reifer said.


 

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