That Sri Lanka were getting their act together was demonstrated by their performance in their last game against West Indies at Durham where they raced to 338-6 and won by 23 runs.
“India is a tough team. They are a top team in the world. You cannot afford to do mistakes against such a skilful side. However, we have beaten them here in England in the Champions Trophy and we have some good memories. The same set of players are part of this squad too. I hope that we will be able to play well,” said Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne at the pre-match press conference held here on Friday.
“But as I said we have little room for error. We want to finish this game well and that will enable us to finish the World Cup on a good note. Although we are unable to make it to semis, a good ranking in the tournament will be good for us,” he said.
Sri Lanka knows that to beat India, the no. 2 ranked ODI team they have to be on top of their game. India are already through to the semi-finals and will be playing to win in order to finish on top of the standings above Australia, the current leaders.
“Every batsman has weak points. We have seen a few videos, and we have a plan for all their top six batsmen. But if you cannot execute them really well on the field the plans won’t work. The point is we have to execute really well against those batsmen. We know they are really dangerous. Once they get set, they will go for the big one. We have some plans and we're trying to restrict them with those plans. And if we can execute them really well, definitely we can get them out. India’s attack is also one of the best in the world but they do have grey areas which we have identified. If we can play to our potential we can pose a challenge,” said Karunaratne.
Headingley has also been a lucky ground for Sri Lanka and they are hoping to capitalise on that.
“At Headingley we've got some lucky games. If you take the Test matches and one-days, we did really well. So we're trying to give our best shot against India. We're playing on the same track that was used against West Indies and Afghanistan (on Thursday). So hopefully we can get some turn. We're trying to give our best shot against India,” said Karunaratne whose opening partnerships with Kusal Perera has been one of the few positives to come out of the World Cup for Sri Lanka.
“We have different styles. What the team expects from me is different. Everyone expects me to bat through the innings. Kusal has been given the freedom to play his game. He can play his shots since he knows that I will play the anchor role from one end. He has that assurance and because of that he plays freely,” explained Karunaratne.
“In case, if I get out, it gets difficult for him to play with freedom. So what I look to do is to rotate the strike and let him take on the bowling. We have a good understanding. I am not racing to catch up with his score. I have my limitations and I try to stick to that. Running between the wickets also we have a good understanding. We have played lot of ‘A’ team cricket and we understand each other well and manage things well.”
The Indian match could also mark the final World Cup for legendary fast bowler Lasith Malinga and although he has not given any indication about his future nevertheless Karunaratne said that the team wanted to give him a memorable farewell.
“This will be Lasith’s last 50-over World Cup. I think he will play in the World T-20. He has done a great job for the team. I am glad I could play alongside him. Before this tournament, I had just played one game with him. I haven’t played any Tests with him. He has not told us his plans. We want to win every game we play and we want to finish the World Cup on a high note and give Lasith a good farewell,” Karunaratne said.