Southampton: New Zealand, runners up of the last edition of the World Cup, will take on Sri Lanka, who have been struggling for form, at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff tomorrow.
Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne declared that they have everything to gain from this match. Considering the form with which New Zealand are in, this match could be a cake-walk for the Kiwis.
Karunaratne is hoping to exploit the positivity among the youngsters in his team and look for a win. “We are all very excited,” he said. “My boys are very keen to play the first match. I believe we are well-prepared and we will try to produce a good match tomorrow.”
But the skipper is also aware that his young team have not earned much reputation at the international level. “All my team players have done very well at the domestic level and that is why they are here,” he said. “They all have a chance to prove themselves.” He believes this opportunity could motivate them to do well and win matches. “We did some experiments prior to our practice games; so winning or losing really doesn’t matter. We just want the team to make use of the opportunity and get to the best level possible.”
In fact, Karunaratne knows that New Zealand’s bowling attack is not an easy one to tackle. “I think the key factor is their main two bowlers, Tim Southee and Trent Boult,” said. “They did really well in the practice game as well. But if we are able to get a good start, we can definitely go for a big score. But we must bat well to stay in the game.”
New Zealand carry the confidence of having thrashed Sri Lanka 3-0 earlier this year, but their skipper Kane Williamson does not want to dwell much on it. “I don’t know how much the past really counts when we come into a tournament,” he said. “It all about that day. We know all teams can beat any of the other teams in this competition, so we’re certainly treating all our matches like that. We want to bring the focus back to the cricket we want to play day in and day out.”
Williamson has done a detailed study on the Sri Lankan team and is aware that they are a determined bunch wanting to prove. “This Sri Lankan side is a little bit different from the one we played at home, and they are a tough side.”
On another note, Williamson is relieved that fans are not discussing about them as a favourites to win the World Cup., “We know that there are sides ranked higher and are favourites in these conditions, but once again, it’s about us playing the sort of cricket that we want to be playing and showing those sort of attributes and characteristics that are really important to us as a side. We always try and be a competitive side day in and day out. And when we are that, we know we can beat anybody.