• Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Will the Lankans be fifth time lucky?

Sakeb Subhan
Kumar Sangakkara (L) and Mahela Jayawardene will sign off from the shortest version of the game today. And it remains to be seen if the two most exciting components of the game can lay their hands on any global silverware that has eluded them on four previous occasions including two ICC World T20 finals. Photo: Star
Kumar Sangakkara (L) and Mahela Jayawardene will sign off from the shortest version of the game today. And it remains to be seen if the two most exciting components of the game can lay their hands on any global silverware that has eluded them on four previous occasions including two ICC World T20 finals. Photo: Star

Another global tournament and once more standing in their way is a rampant India. Sri Lanka have been one of the more consistent sides in global tournaments; they reached the 2007 and 2011 50-overs World Cup finals, and the 2009 and 2012 World Twenty20 finals. On all four of those occasions, they finished second best. India, the side they face today, beat them in the 2011 final. Lasith Malinga, the slinging wonder and captain of Sri Lanka, must be thinking that surely, now is their time.
And it would be a perfect time as two of Sri Lanka's greatest cricketing sons, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, will bow out of the format following today's final.
"We all know that they are great cricketers not just in Sri Lanka, but in the world," said Malinga in the pre-match press conference at Mirpur yesterday. "I have played under both of them, and now they are playing under me. I'm very happy to be in that position, they always help the younger players. We all want to do our best for these two. It's a special day tomorrow and we have to do something special."
Sentiment aside, Sri Lanka have much more going for them than meets the eye. They are virtually the home side, having been in this country for much of the last three months, starting from their full tour, the Asia Cup and the World Twenty20. In all that time, during which they won the Asia Cup, they have lost just one match, against England in their World Twenty20 group game.
"We've been playing a lot of cricket in Bangladesh. Everyone is looking forward to doing their job and giving 100 per cent to the national team," Malinga said. "We won the Asia Cup, and tomorrow is a good opportunity for us to prove ourselves once more."
As far as their unbeaten opponents are concerned, Sri Lanka may have a slight edge, having beaten them in the Asia Cup and also in the World Twenty20 warm-up game.
"Practice match is a practice match. But a tournament match is very different, both mentally and physically. The final is a big game, the tension is completely different. Whoever plays well on the day can win," Malinga said, dismissing the notion of any edge.


The team they are faced with is a formidable one, especially the lynchpin among them by the name of Virat Kohli, who has so far scored 242 runs at an average of 121. "We all know Virat is a great player. But even the greatest player needs only one ball to get out. I have a good feeling that someone from my side can bowl that one good ball tomorrow," hoped Malinga.
The captain will be involved in a battle within a battle. Being the best bowler in his side, he will be expected to take care of the best opposition batsman in Kohli. "We have to plan for all 20 overs. They have six or seven good batsmen. We don't think only about getting one particular batsman out. We have to focus on bowling 20 good overs," Malinga said.

Published: 12:01 am Sunday, April 06, 2014

Last modified: 3:04 am Sunday, April 06, 2014

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