Colombo, March 25 (IANS) On the eve of their quarter-final clash against England, Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara reposed faith in his inconsistent middle-order batsmen, saying they have it in them to produce quality knocks when required.
Sangakkara also said that spin king Muttiah Muralitharan is fit and ready to play before the home crowd.
Muralitharan had stretched his hamstring in the last league match against New Zealand in Mumbai.
“Murali is fine and hundred percent fit. It is great for us,” said Sangakkara.
“It’s a do-or-die for all the teams now playing in the quarter-finals. The guys are focused, we will do what we have to do.”
“The team that loses will lose the semi-final berth, so I don’t think any team would like to lose. Wherever you play that incentive (crowd) is going to be there. All sides will feel the intensity and pressure equally,” Sangakkara said when asked about the pressure of playing the quarter-final at home.
“I don’t think crowd will be any different tomorrow. That’s how it is played here.”
Asked whether middle order batting is a concern, Sangakkara said: “Our middle order is very good. They are some of the best players not only of Sri Lanka but best in the world. It is hard to judge a middle order when they have batted only for 5-10 overs in games. In the Sri Lankan side everyone is very confident and we trust each other.”
“We are confident of each other’s abilities. Chamara Silva, Chamara Kapugedera, Thilan Samaraweera, and Angelo Mathews are best players to do the job. They have done it against the best opposition in the world and they will keep doing it.”
Sangakkara, who hit his maiden World Cup century against New Zealand, is the top Sri Lankan scorer with 363 runs from six matches. Explosive opener Tillakaratne Dilshan is next with 286 runs.
Sangakkara said they are not taking the England team lightly.
“England are one of the best sides in this tournament and they have proved it right through. They are a well-balanced side. We know how tough they can be so we are not expecting anything less than that.”
Sangakkara did not think that England’s left-arm spinner Michael Yardy flying back home in depression will make any difference to the visitors.
“They have two good spinners in Graeme Swann and James Tredwell. They are flying in another. They have their bases covered. They might have liked to play Yardy for the variation, but I don’t think they will be worrying too much. They will rather think about players they have.”
“Spin has played a great part in the tournament. Spinners have bowled with the new ball. All the sides at this stage are pretty balanced with good spinners. They will try to take advantage of the conditions.”
“Even in Twenty20, spin has come to the fore. The Powerplays have been a lifeline for spinners and they will keep doing well.”
Asked how much of a role can Muralitharan play, Sangakkara said: “He is a guy who rises to the occasion. The side is very confident about Murali and we know what he can produce for us in important games. Rest of the guys will support each other very well.”