Mumbai, March 17 (IANS) Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakarra says his side is focussed on winning their last World Cup group match against New Zealand and take the momentum into the quarterfinals but insisted they will not be dwelling too much on the outcome of the clash Friday.
Both Sri Lanka and New Zealand have qualified for the knockout stage and the result will only impact their positions in Group A.
Sangakarra said such a match would hold importance only for the side that has been down in the league stages and is looking for some confidence.
“Every side likes to build momentum and take it to the important stage. The quarters, semis and finals are what really count, where it is going to be a do-or-die situation. So what happened before won’t really matter unless it has hit a particular side psychologically. We want to win tomorrow and have the momentum going into the next stage,” Sangakarra said Thursday.
Sangakarra said he is not worried that their middle order has not been tested in the league matches and that they will rise to the occasion when needed.
“If we win matches with the top order performing that’s just good enough for us, but if the middle order needs to pitch in, then that’s what they are there for and they are good enough to do the job.
“We had one bad failure against Pakistan and we were looking pretty solid against Australia. We really didn’t have much to do in the other games. When the real test comes the guys are very capable of stepping up in those situations.”
Sri Lanka will be playing their last league match away from home despite being the co-hosts. Sangakarra said though they will miss playing in front of their home crowd, the shift might work to their advantage.
“I think it’s always nice to play at home. It’s the same situation for both the teams for this game. Wickets in India seem to be more balanced than wickets in Sri Lanka where the conditions do give bit of a advantage to a certain side. And the total seem to be high here,” he said.
Sangakkara said the match will be followed keenly back home.
“Sometimes, it is a bit easier when you don’t have the huge expectations at certain stages. But the expectations are not going away. People are interested and watching at home.”
“We do miss the home support. They really lifts us. At the same time we know if we win tomorrow we can give them something special.”
Sri Lanka hold a 4-3 record against New Zealand in World Cups and lead 2-0 head-to-head in Mumbai. Sangakarra, however, said history matters little.
“We are different sides. When you are playing in the World Cup, the past doesn’t matter. For us, it’s going back to the basics and cover all our bases and take the opportunities that come our way.”
The mercury has been rising in the city, but Sangakkara said the heat would not bother them. Also, he said his bowlers can get reverse swing.
“As long as you are fit, it (heat) doesn’t bother too much. Being a sub-continental side, we are used to playing in the heat. Reverse swing is quite important in these conditions. The pitches are quite abrasive and gets discoloured. If you can maintain the ball and if you have the bowlers to exploit, then reverse swing becomes very handy,” he said.
Sangakarra was happy with the newly refurbished Wankhede Stadium. “With the Wankhede stadium being so small, the scores haven’t been exceptionally high. That means the boundaries, the size of the ground has not mattered. What mattered is the skills of the players on the field. The pitch looks pretty good, the outfield looks fantastic.
“It’s a great stadium. The importance of the stadium is that it is going to host the final. Playing here and doing well will be important in that context,” he said.
Sangakarra said they would be looking to tackle the Black Caps destructive batsman and stand-in captain Ross Taylor.
“We will try and get him out as soon as we can. You can cover all the angles but the opponents come prepared.”
“We have bowled well against him in the past. We know how destructive he can be. We are going to mix up things to him and put him under a lot of pressure.”
New Zealand’s two key bowlers, Daniel Vettori and Kyle Mills will sit out owing to injuries but Sangakarra said that will not make much of a difference.
“They are two very important players. But at the same time they will be looking to do well without their key players and it will add to their confidence if they can,” he said.