India may have played Malinga a lot, but he has different ideas for tomorrow, says the Sri Lankan captain
Considering that India have got a very strong batting lineup, what have you told your bowlers?
I haven't said anything so far. Well, yeah, we need to make our plans and strategies right for tomorrow, but I'm sure the bowlers are confident enough to meet their batting lineup. But I think India has a very strong team to beat, and the past record has not been very good for us. But hopefully we can turn things around tomorrow.
Angelo, the last time Sri Lanka faced India in a knockout here in an ICC event was the World Cup final 2011. So, what have you seen since then and how are you fancying your chances in this encounter?
Yeah, as I said before, India is a very strong team to beat and they've got a good batting lineup. They are a good, balanced team, and I think to work on the Indians tomorrow I think we need to play positive cricket. And considering ‑‑ the weather is not in our control, but apparently it's going to rain quite a bit. But I know it's not in our control. We need to try and control the things that we can control, batting, bowling and fielding, obviously. We will try and do our best in that and try and win.
Having beaten the host country and the defending champions, how much confidence have you gained?
Yeah, especially after the New Zealand game, we had to do it the hard way and we had to beat England in English conditions and also the Australians had played really well in the past couple of months. The boys responded brilliantly. We had to win the two games to get into the semi-finals, and we had to do it the hard way, and the boys responded brilliantly.
Angelo, there must be self confidence because the two victories you've had have been very close‑fought games while India have cruised to victory in all of their three matches. Do you see that yourself as an advantage?
I mean, we are a fighting team. All three games went down to the wire, and we had to fight really hard to win. The team confidence is very high. We know that we are a fighting team, and we fight to the last moment. Hopefully we can once again have a good performance like at The Oval.
Just going back to the World Cup final, Angelo, Mahela had a fantastic hundred in a losing cause. Does he and you feel that this is payback time?
There's no word for revenge in sport, but yes, if we can beat the Indians, I think it'll be a great achievement for the whole team because, you know, there are thoughts about the World Cup final, and the recent history against them is not very good for Sri Lanka.
But on our day we can beat any team. I'm sure the boys are up for it and are geared up to take on India tomorrow.
Do you think your batting lineup is almost equal to Indian batting lineup?
Yes, I think we have seven really good batters who can score a hundred on any day, and I think we have to fight really hard in the last three games, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have been brilliant and also the whole team - Dilshan and Thirimanne at the front and they were brilliant. Their presence were actually crucial in the last game, so hopefully the batting will click once again.
As captain do you see Sri Lanka as a side right now which is in transition or right now probably a team which is a very good mix of experience and very good youngsters? How do you see the present scenario where your team is concerned?
It's kind of a mixture. It is a transition period for us where the seniors are also in, but we are trying to inject some new blood into the system. But I think we've got to do it carefully because we can't just bring in youngsters, we can't play all 11 youngsters and try and win games. We need to have that balance, the correct balance with the seniors and the juniors because when we were brought into the system there were seniors, as well, and they helped us to go through all the challenges, all the nervous moments, all the anxious moments. We need that comfort with the seniors, as well, in the team.
Angelo, some of the experts seem to think that Lanka depend on two batsmen; more than obviously -- two batsmen. Are people underestimating Sri Lanka by any chance, and too, could you also talk about your experiences with the swinging, why it's not swinging so much, the ball?
Who are the two batsmen?
Sanga and Mahela.
Yeah, I would say they are the backbone of the batting lineup, but we’ve got Dilshan once again, a very senior guy, and we've got a few youngsters in Dinesh Chandimal, Thirimanne who can take the bowling apart. But we are not depending on certain people in the team because all seven are good batters. But we saw Sangakkara and Mahela come into the park as well as Dilshan. Yeah, we depend on them, but whoever gets set on that day has to continue for a long score and try and get the team into a good total. So yeah.
I also asked for the swing, the ball doesn’t seem to be swinging that much.
I haven't had a look at the wicket yet, but these conditions can be swinging, and there can be a bit of lateral movement. If there's any, I think, in the first 10, 15 overs we need to be cautious a little bit more, but if there aren't then we need to try to attack in the first 10, 15 overs. But we haven't planned our strategies out. We'll have a look at the wicket and try and plan it out.
So far in this campaign you've had Nuwan Kulasekara hitting a good half century and you've had Tillakaratne Dilshan bowling well, as well. Is part of Sri Lanka's strength in these competitions and why you've been able to progress so far the fact that you've been able to find contributions like that from the group, from people you don't expect?
Yeah, I mean, I've seen a big difference in our team. Everyone wants to contribute with bat and ball, or if not they'll come and contribute with their thoughts, so everyone wants to win, and that's the main ‑‑ that's the thing as a captain you need from the team because this small idea can change a game, can win a game. So everyone contributes, seniors, juniors, whoever who plays, all the reserves, all the support staff, everyone wants to win, and we are trying to achieve one goal in this tournament.
Angelo, bowling was not disciplined in your game against Australia; you gave away as many as 22 extras. Have you discussed this, and how do you plan to overcome that?
Yeah, we have discussed it. Yeah, we were in the Australian game ‑‑ to make a game out of it you always have to get our score in 29.1 overs and they had to go for a few shots early on, and we tried to take wickets, as well, so that’s probably the reason for the extras. We were not ‑‑ not that we were not disciplined, but I thought we wanted to get a few wickets to try and push them back. So we tried, also, I think, to get them out. But the bowling unit has been really good in the recent past. They've always been good for us, and hopefully they can come out with a better performance tomorrow, as well.
Angelo, Mahela's experience came in handy in the last game where he actually batted at No. 5, then at 4. Does that give you more balance to your lineup, having someone like him at No. 5 rather than having your three most experienced guys batting from 1 to 4?
It depends on the situation and the conditions. We try to keep our options open, and we try to be flexible in our batting order because there are some situations where you need Test match batting and some situations you need to accelerate. We try to keep our options open rather than having a set batting order.
You lost to India in a very high‑profile World Cup final two years ago. Do you think next time, tomorrow in your meeting, that part of that remains and psychologically you need to boost you have your team and tell them it's just another game?
Well, I think the past is the past and we need to move on with the present situation. Here as I said before, the past history has not been very good for Sri Lanka, but hopefully once again we are in very good mental and physical condition for tomorrow's game, so hopefully we can beat India.
Do you think you need to give a pep talk to the team?
Not really. I mean, we've had chats over the past couple of weeks, and we don't need to sort of have any special chat about tomorrow's game. But we need to do our thing right and our basics the way we do it, and I'm sure that we can overcome India tomorrow.
Angelo, the fact that we asked Dhoni about the effect of Lasith Malinga, and he said that you guys play so much cricket together in the IPL that Malinga is no more a big threat, there's no surprise in tomorrow's match? That's my first question. And will you be surprised if the wicket turns tomorrow at Cardiff? That's my second.
Firstly, yeah, we play against India a lot as well, not only in the IPL, and whoever who's playing against anyone all the time gets used to them. But I'm sure, Lasith, he's a very good bowler and he's an experienced bowler to come into those situations. Yes, Indians might have played Lasith quite a lot, but I'm sure he's a very experienced bowler and he has a few different ideas for tomorrow.
And the spinning wicket?
Wouldn't be surprised. The first game against New Zealand that we played here, it was stopping and turning a little bit, so can't really predict the wicket 100 per cent, but whatever wicket we get, we need to play on it, so we'll try and adapt to the wicket and the conditions as soon as possible.
Angelo, the fact that we are seeing Malinga for the first time on a pre‑match day coming to the training, does it also reflect that he's taking this game really seriously, he really wants to correct a string of poor performances against India?
I wouldn't say poor performance, but yeah, he takes every game seriously. It's just that he wants to do a little bit more for tomorrow. Yeah, we are quite flexible with the bowlers. Whoever wants to have a bowl, they are welcome to have. If not, if they want to rest, they're welcome to rest. We are not pushing anyone at this time, so whoever wants to do their bit can come and do it.
Angelo, is there any particular strategy to stop Shikhar Dhawan?
We're not looking at any individual at the moment because all seven batters are very good. They have a good strong batting lineup. We are not looking at any particular player, but we are making plans for the whole batting lineup.