[size=14pt]World Cup so far
Sri Lankans leave to contest cricketĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s ultimate showpiece making no predictions but claim anything is possible[/size]
By Callistus Davy
Sri LankaĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s cricketers will leave to contest what would be the most demanding World Cup to date keeping their fingers crossed and looking for the cracks not knowing what to expect in the 47-day championship which begins in the West Indies on March 13.
The 15-member squad leaves for the Caribbean tomorrow and five of the hardcore players, Sanath Jayasuriya, Marvan Atapattu, Mahela Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara and Muttiah Muralitheran who came together in an unprecedented media formality, contend there is no clear favourite to win the championship and stopped short of predicting how far the team could go.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“People expect a lot from us but it all depends on how the pressure changes, how a batsmanĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s confidence changes and the result would depend on how you play on that given dayĂ˘â‚¬Âť, said the veteran of three World Cups, Muttiah Muralitheran yesterday.
But none would doubt the fact that Sri LankaĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s fortunes would also depend on how the general of five World Cups, Sanath Jayasuriya calls the shots or how his team would cope if he fails. Jayasuriya however, modestly claims that his is not a one-man show and every member will have to make his presence felt.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“My job is to go out and play my natural game and I am not under any added pressure. I donĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t think they (team-mates) are expecting too much from me. Everybody will have to do their partĂ˘â‚¬Âť, said Jayasuriya.
Sri Lanka is grouped with neighbours India and Bangladesh while Bermuda is the fourth country in the group from which only two teams qualify for the second round where eight contestants will vie for the semi final slots.
Apart from the unpredictable opposition that the Sri Lankans are expected to be up against, the new pitches at some of the venues will be one of the hurdles the team will have to negotiate. For skipper Mahela Jayawardena itĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s a blessing that no team will be able to kick-off their campaign on a high note.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“This is an open tournament and the team that will adjust and peak at the right time can do wellĂ˘â‚¬Âť, said Jayawardena who will himself have to shed his poor batting form to be counted into the equation.
Two of the key batsmen in the side Kumar Sangakkara, a potential World Cup captain and Marvan Atapattu who probably missed out on leading the team at the gameĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s most prestigious showpiece because of injury concerns, said they were fully aware of their responsibilities.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“I have added a few shots to my repertoire and happy to be a step ahead of the bowlersĂ˘â‚¬Âť, said Sangakkara.
Atapattu acknowledged it was the chance of a lifetime. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“We are all fighting for one cause. God has given me this talent and I am going to make the maximum of thisĂ˘â‚¬Âť, said Atapattu 36, who has yet to deliver in a World Cup.