cricket

Former skipper backs Sri Lanka to do it again

Three strike bowlers in Malinga, Mendis and Muralitharan and subcontinental batting conditions basis of assessment

By D. Datta, Special to Gulf News
00:00 February 20, 2011

Mirpur: The return of the ICC World Cup to the sub-continent must be giving Arjuna Ranatunga a sense of deja vu.

The last time the tournament was held in this part of the world in 1996, the portly Sri Lankan skipper played a big hand in breaking the jinx of a host country never to have won the Cup.

In a freewheeling chat with Gulf News, he shares his thoughts on the defining ‘96 triumph and the current event. Excerpts:

GULF NEWS: What would you rate as the main reasons for your win in 1996?

ARJUNA RANATUNGA: Teamwork, planning, execution was almost perfect. I spent hours after hours in front of television to watch the videos of various teams. I found out the strength and weakness of our opponents through those sessions. It was tiring, but gradually I found it interesting in finding some very interesting points through the videos that helped us to make the blueprint for the strategies to fight the battle. 

What about this time?

I think Sri Lanka is a genuine favourite team for this edition as well. I find a similar atmosphere in the camp as before the tenth edition of the World Cup. 

Don't you have any worry as far as the bowling is concerned?

I must admit that the bowling strength in 1996 was even weaker than the current team. Watch out for Ajantha Mendis. He has really worked hard to do well in the forthcoming event.

Lot of people are saying that the batsman have already read him, yet I am confident that he would deliver again this time. We will be having Lasith Malinga and of course, Muttiah Muralitharan. If you have three genuine strike bowlers, you are very much in the business. 

Any other points for which you are so confident about Sri Lanka?

We will play most of the matches at our backyard. We have got a solid batting line-up. Let me repeat, we won the 1996 world cup due to our exceptionally talented batting line up. Have you forgotten Arvinda deSilva's scintillating form?

We decided to rally round him and thankfully he got runs in almost all the major matches including the final. I am sure Mahela, Sangakkara nad Dilshan will carry Sri Lanka this time. My country will definitely reach the semi-finals and, in that situation, it would be anybody's game.