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We are confident going into the final: Mahela

Posted by on March 31, 2011 0 Comment

Mumbai, March 31 (IANS) Describing Saturday’s World Cup final against India as a challenge, Sri Lankan vice captain Mahela Jayawardene Thursday said that the variety in their batting and bowling will hold them in good stead.

“Every game is a challenge. We play the game looking upon them as a challenge. And you enjoy the atmosphere,” Jayawardene told mediapersons here.

He said the players in the dressing room are very excited after having made the final.

“After the semifinal (win against New Zealand) we sat down. We let the guys enjoy a bit. And we had a very good chat with them about how they will approach the next few days. Lot of things came out of that what the players wanted to achieve.”

“There are lot of players in the team whose dream was to play for Sri Lanka. Now they want to win the World Cup. And that’s fantastic,” he told mediapersons.

Asked about their performance in the semifinal, he said: “We batted brilliantly and were very positive in our approach. For a couple of overs we were under pressure. But the guys came out very well. Overall we have handled tough situations well in the tournament. We are very confident going into the game.”

Sri Lanka, who emerged champions the last time the tournament was played in the sub-continent in 1996, have made the final for the second time in a row. In 2007, they went down to Australia in the title clash.

However, Jayawardene said his team has left behind the disappointment of that loss four years back.

“It was an unfortunate episode and as a group we have moved away from that,” he said.

He did not wish to daw a comparison between the present lot and the bunch which played in the Caribbeans.

“Comparing the two teams is difficult. Everytime in the World Cup you try and find the right combination. Guys have different roles,” he said.

The right hander, who is one of the batting mainstays in his team, disagreed that the team was dependent on the top order batsmen. “One may say that the middle order hasn’t had a knock. But that’s because the top order has fired. And that’s what every teams wants their top order to do. If they fail then the middle order comes in. That’s how we analyse that.

“All players have been asked to perform specific roles. I can’t unfortunately change the mentality of people who say these things. It’s fair enough.”

He also saluted the Arjuna Raantunga led 1996 side, saying it instilled belief and aggressiveness in the Sri Lankan team. “I think that (1996) side had lot of natural talent. These seniors have shown to us that we belong here with our natural talent.

“We should have belief in ourselves. And we should play our natural game and focus on winning. They told us to be aggressive against all good opposition.

“Ever since that time, there is more public support. And youngsters in the team like Angelo, Ajantha have always been allowed to play their natural game.

“We realise the variations that we have in the side. The ways the guys approach the game is very different. And it is very difficult to analyse a team like us and have a set game against us.”

He also lavished praise on the captaincy of Kumar Sangakkara, saying he sets goals and drives all others to follow. “He knows exactly who he wants in the team. He sets goals for himself with his batting and he is always so determined. If you see him in the practice, how hard he works, it’s remarkable.

“He handles pressure so easily because once his mind is set for something, none can distract him. Tactically no one can doubt his abilities as he knows the game inside out,” he added.

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