Colombo, March 28 (IANS) Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara has warned his teammates against complacency ahead of their World Cup semifinal clash against New Zealand here Tuesday.
Sangakkara said New Zealand are a “formidable” side and would pose a stiff challenge.
“I think all New Zealand players have done well. They bat deep, have quality bowling and they are a quality fielding side. They are an opposition nobody would take lightly. We expect a stiff competition tomorrow.
“New Zealand will be exceptionally tough. Dan (Daniel Vettori) is a great captain. He has been around for such a long time and he understands everything. They are a formidable side,” said Sangakkara.
The captain said his boys will have to play solid cricket to come out on top.
“There’s no room for complacency. We understand the gravity of the situation and the challenge that has come our way. You have to accept it and enjoy. The guys have done that pretty well and tomorrow’s not going to be any different. It is not a question of playing for the crowd and showing off. We need to play good, solid cricket.
“It’s a new day. We have done well, but it is tomorrow that counts. All we have to do is put our heads down, start from square one and give a winning performance.”
He said expectations from fans will always be there but they need to concentrate on putting up a good performance.
“It’s (fan’s expectations) something we cannot control. We should make sure that we stay fully focused tomorrow.
“In a tournament like this, you keep building. For us there are a lot of areas that we have to cover. We’ve done well in the tournament. The guys understand that it is tomorrow that counts and that’s what we are looking forward to.”
Sangakkara said they gained momentum after their convincing 10-wicket victory over England in the quarterfinals and would like to carry it forward.
“The reason why the match against England looked easier was because our openers put up a magnificent partnership. Those kinds of partnerships don’t come around very often.”
In the previous World Cup, Sri Lanka beat New Zealand at the same stage with Mahela Jayawardena cracking a century.
Sangakkara said Jayawardene is a big match player and is in good form.
“Mahela has converted every single opportunity he’s had in the tournament. He got run out unfortunately in the match against Australia. He is a big match player. He is the best batsman in our team. He and Aravinda de Silva are the best two players we’ve seen in years. He won’t back down from any challenge. He relishes important moments.”
Sangakkara said Nuwan Kulasekera could be drafted in the team, considering that he has had a good record against New Zealand.
“Nuwan Kulasekera has invariably done well against New Zealand. He’s a strong contender to play, but everyone’s in the mix. We will make our decision based on what we think is best combination to play New Zealand. At the same time, playing three spinners is something we have to decide on.”
Sri Lanka played three spinners — Muthiah Muralitharan, Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis — in the quarterfinal against England.
“That was the best combination against England. We have to think about our fast bowlers, especially Nuwan. We have to make sure we play the right combination.
Asked about the toss, Sangakkara said: “I don’t think the toss will make a huge difference. This wicket will even out.”