By Anand Vasu in Chittagong
Key for the Netherlands would be to refocus after the Ireland high, while Sri Lanka has some big issues to address in a hurry
Peter Borren, who was at the forefront of that brutal assault, conceded that the need of the hour was to put some aspects of the Ireland match behind them and settle into a more mundane groove. To that extent, the players had a long and vigorous practice session on the eve of their match against Sri Lanka, spending close to three hours at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong on Sunday (March 23).
“It has sunk in. It was a euphoric evening. We were on a good adrenalin high but now we have a job to do,” said Borren. “We watched Sri Lanka yesterday, they were very good against South Africa. They are a top team, as every team in this group is. It’s going to be very competitive. We’ll take a look, not only at what they did yesterday, but what they’ve been doing, and come up with some plans. After what was a very good occasion, we have to train hard and refocus pretty quickly.”
Sri Lanka goes into the match with the cushion of a win against South Africa, but it has a few issues to address. Not least is the form of Tillakaratne Dilshan, who has looked as dangerous as ever in the nets, but has failed to translate this into big runs out in the middle. With Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara playing their swansong tournament, there’s also the question of how to get the likes of Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne into the game early on. In a 20-over game, there is little time for anyone to play themselves in, and neither Jayawardena nor Sangakkara are the kind to hang around if they are coming in the way of the team’s cause.
The other issue for Sri Lanka is the manner in which South Africa played Ajantha Mendis, comfortably taking him for 44 runs in 4 overs. With the ball not really gripping the surface, batsmen have only had to get to the pitch of the ball and then hitting through the line has not been an issue.
Chandimal conceded that the skiddy nature of the pitch had not helped Sri Lanka’s brand of cricket. “It was a different kind of a wicket to the ones that we played on during our recent matches here. There was little bit of grass but it didn’t do much to support the seamers,” he said. “As the ball got older, it was more on the slower side as well. There was a big difference to the wickets we have played on before.”
Sri Lanka, while being the favourite from the group to make it to the next round, was not going to make the mistake of taking things lightly. “Yeah, I watched that match between Ireland and Netherlands. They played some really good cricket in that game. We're not going to underestimate them because we all know that they are a very good Twenty20 team,” said Chandimal. “In this format of the game, any team can do well on their day and create major upsets. We have plans for them and we're hoping to carry forward the basics to tomorrow's game. We did the basics right in the match against South Africa.”
For Borren, the first thing to ensure was that his team showed the right consistency in the remaining matches of the tournament. “When we failed to chase a couple of manageable targets, I wasn’t happy. But this last target, I wouldn’t have called manageable (laughs) but it’s a captain’s nightmare, inconsistency,” said Borren. “It is something we should look at, but it is Twenty20 cricket. You’ve heard that a million times as well, that anything can happen if you have a fearless approach. We’ve got guys who are capable of achieving really good things in the next few games. I’m not p****d off after the last game.”
The Netherlands captain certainly had cause to be proud of his team. All that remains is for it to knock over one of the big boys, as it did with England at Lord’s in 2009, and the campaign will be a perfect one.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawrdene, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara, Ajantha Mendis, Sachitra Senanayake, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal, Seekkuge Prasanna.
The Netherlands: Peter Borren (capt), Wesley Barresi (wk), Mudassar Bukhari, Ben Cooper, Tom Cooper, Tom Heggleman, Ahsan Malik, Vivian Kingma, Stephan Myburgh, Michael Rippon, Pieter Seelaar, Michael Swart, Eric Szwarczynski, Logan van Beek, Timm van der Gugten.