Sri Lanka’s World Cup fate is out of their own hands after defeat to South Africa on Friday in Durham.
But skipper Dimuth Karunaratne insists he and his fellow batsmen are ready to turn the tide in their favour in their last two games of this ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.
Monday sees Sri Lanka face the West Indies, again at Chester-le-Street, and depending on other results they will know if their top-four hopes are still intact.
But the fact remains they must win two from two – their last game is against India – to stand any chance of staying alive in the tournament.
And Karunaratne is adamant his side are focused on the job in hand, starting with the already-eliminated West Indies.
“We can't control the other games, you know,” he said.
“They were playing really well. Sometimes they were playing really well, sometimes they couldn't. I think we had a good chance. Still we have a chance, I think, but we have to win these two games and wait to see what will happen in the other games.
“Only we can control the matches we are going to play, the two matches, so we are trying to give our best and try to win these two matches and, hopefully, if we have a chance, we definitely can be in the top four teams.”
The batting has been the chief source of concern all tournament long for Sri Lanka.
Karunaratne has made two half centuries, as has Kusal Perera while Angelo Mathews has chipped in with one of his own in their massive win over England in Leeds.
But no Sri Lankan batsman has reached three figures yet in this tournament, and the skipper is keen to put that statistic to bed.
“I think the batting is the main collapse, you know. We couldn't get a hundred. We played like six, five matches, so we couldn't get a hundred, only a couple of 50s in our team, so that is the only major thing,” he added.
“If you want to compete with the good sides, you definitely got to have a good batting line-up and you have to put runs on the board, so I think in this World Cup, the major part is the batting line-up.”
And Karunaratne has resisted the temptation to bring in an extra batsmen after Nuwan Pradeep was struck down with chickenpox.
Instead, Kasun Rajitha was given the nod by the captain.
“If some fast bowler gets injured, there is no fast bowler, so you want to take a fast bowler into the squad in case if someone get injured,” he added.
“But I think we have enough batsmen. They have capabilities to score runs, but I think the only thing is they were scoring but as a unit we couldn't perform really well in these matches.
“I think everyone has to put hands up and put heads down and put some runs on the board if you want to really win the matches.”
Pitch and conditions: The pitch looks very much similar what Sri Lanka played South Africa on Friday. It will be good enough for batting but will be slightly slower. The weather will be fair with no rains expected.
Sri Lanka: Kasun Rajitha who came in to the side after seamer Nuwan Pradeep was ruled out with chickenpox might get a game ahead of veteran Suranga Lakmal. Lakmal who has only played in two games so far, is yet to pick up a wicket in the tournament. Middle order is a big worry for Sri Lanka and they might consider in bringing an additional batsman into the side. If so Lahiru Thirimanna may get a game ahead of Jeevan Mendis or Milinda Siriwardena, two spinning allrounders who have been largely ineffective.
Possible XI: Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Perera, Avishka Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis/ Milinda Siriwardana/Lahiru Thirimanna, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Suranga Lakmal/Kasun Rajitha, Lasith Malinga
What they say:
“West Indies are a good team, and a side that scores very quickly. We’ve watched videos and we’ve come up with plans for them. We have several good bowlers. We’ve worked out what West Indies’ batsmen’s scoring options are, as much as we can. If we put runs on the board, I’m confident we can defend a total,”—Sri Lanka Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne
West Indies: With just three points out of seven games, West Indies got no chance of a semi-final spot but the big-hitting Caribbean’s may go all out in their quest to end the tournament on high. They could opt for a duel spin attack with off-spinner Ashley Nurse coming back into the team to join left-arm orthodox Fabien Allen. Sunil Ambris likely to continue in place of the injured Evin Lewis.
What they say:
“Yes, we are out of the World Cup, but there is still a lot of cricket to play after the World Cup. It's important for us to, you know, find the winning ways and find the winning formula going forward, so it is important for us to play this game as hard as possible,” West Indies head coach Floyd Reifer.
Possible XI: Chris Gayle, Sunil Ambris, Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Carlos Brathwaite, Fabien Allen, Kemar Roach, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas
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