Sri Lanka’s Lahiru Thirimanne bats in the nets during a training session at the Riverside Ground, in Chester-le-Street, northeast England on June 27. Image Credit: AFP

Birmingham: All eyes will be on Sri Lanka when they take on West Indies at the Riverside Durham in Chester-Le-Street on Monday. Victory is a must as they face a team already out of the World Cup — but a semi-final spot is mathematically still within their grasp.

Sri Lanka’s win over England had given some hope to their fans, but their defeat to South Africa dampened it all. They now need to win their matches against West Indies and India and expect favourable results for them from England and Pakistan in their matches.

Sri Lankan skipper Dimuth Karunaratne came into the prematch press conference after watching the India-England match on television. He admitted that his team’s fate now isn’t entirely in his hands. “I know we cannot control the other games. While we did stand a chance earlier on, I still have hopes of making it to the semis. Surely we need to win our next two games but will also have to wait for the other results. So we are going to give it our best shot,” was his positive outlook for his team.

Was he happy with his players’ performance. Karunaratne was tactful in his response. “I think our batting is the main issue. We didn’t get any hundred. From the five to six matches, we managed only a couple of 50s in our team. If we are hoping to compete with the good sides, we must have a good batting line-up and put runs on the board.”

West Indies revealed their attitude towards playing this match through their head coach Floyd Reifer during the prematch press conference.“ 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 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. We want to create that winning culture. And that has to start from somewhere. So we’re going to approach our games in a professional manner. The guys are still up for it, and we are good to go.”

All fans will be looking forward to an exciting battle between the West Indies’ hardest hitter Chris Gayle and Sri Lanka’s fearsome Lasith Malinga. Who will be deadly will be interesting to watch. When Reifer was asked about that, he said: “These guys have played against each other for the last 10 years to 12 years, and they’ve had some interesting contests. We expect a good battle tomorrow between Malinga and Chris.”

Reifer was also optimistic about their future of West Indies cricket even though they are out of the World Cup. “I can see good times ahead for the West Indies. We have a lot of young guys here whom we can mould into a strong unit going forward.”