cricket

Sri Lanka draw on World T20 win over Pakistan

Kumar Sangakkara looks back to semi-final triumph before T20, ODI and Test series in UAE

17:48 December 9, 2013

Dubai: Sri Lanka’s veteran batsman Kumar Sangakkara hopes the memories of his side’s Twenty20 World Cup semi-final win over Pakistan last year will inspire them to victory in the upcoming series in the UAE.

The 36-year-old was a member of the Sri Lanka side that beat Pakistan by 16 runs, successfully defending a total of just 139 at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo last October.

The two teams meet again in the UAE for two T20 matches in Dubai on Wednesday and Friday, before they take on each other in five One Day Internationals and three Test matches. “Pakistan had basically won that match at one stage, but we managed to pull it back, especially through Rangana Herath’s few overs. However, here we will take [it] game by game and see how we go. It is especially important to win the first game on tour and so all our players are raring to go,” Sangakkara said after arriving in Dubai.

“The mood in our camp has been great — everyone is raring to go. They all know this is a great place to play cricket. Moreover, we had some good cricket back home and everyone is looking forward.”

But the veteran of 46 Twenty20 Internationals won’t be taking anything for granted against a Pakistan side, who are fresh from their exploits against a formidable South Africa in back-to-back series.

“I have played some good knocks against Pakistan,” Sangakkara said. “They have a very balanced side. Saeed Ajmal is undoubtedly one of the finest off-spinners in the game. They also have fine bowlers in Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan, who is unfortunately injured.

“The new finds in the Pakistan team have shown that they can step up and perform. But we also have some very talented players who have something special to offer. This series will give us a good idea of how we will have to prepare for the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup [in Bangladesh next year].”

Sri Lanka will have to cope without former captain Mahela Jayawardene for the Twenty20 series as he is on paternity leave, while another batting stalwart, Tillakaratne Dilshan, has now retired from Test cricket.

Sangakkara, though, does not believe the absence of the key players will put any extra pressure on him. “Two top players not being with us is a reality,” he said. “Jayawardene will join us later as he has just got a baby girl. Dilshan has retired from Test cricket. That is the nature of the game. People move on and sometimes some players cannot make a tour. Under those circumstances, it is a great opportunity for whoever is going to fill the void to step up and take the responsibility and play some good cricket. It is all about having fun and enjoying themselves in whatever they do.”