|| CF Correspondent ||
Experienced Sri Lanka bowler Lasith Malinga stressed the importance of patience as his side look to bounce back with an emphatic performance in a “must-win” game against Afghanistan.
The two teams are both searching for their first wins of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 when they meet in Cardiff. Sri Lanka were on the wrong end of a heavy defeat to New Zealand in their opening match, with captain Dimuth
Karunaratne’s unbeaten fifty the only highlight of a ten-wicket loss. And after Sri Lanka collapsed to 136 within 30 overs against the Black Caps, Malinga admitted the batsmen must take more responsibility when they face the ever-improving Afghans.
“At the moment, we are concerned with our own skill and how we’re going to play,” he said. “That's what we are most concerned about. Whoever is batting or bowling, he has to have a perfect game.
“We need a must-win game in this competition, we need a must-win game tomorrow. We will try our best in accuracy and tactically, everything hopefully will be there tomorrow.
“The most important thing we need is patience, patience is very important. We know these conditions, we can have someone get 60, 70 runs and still some balls can move.
“We have to have a bit of patience; we have to analyse the conditions. Whoever is the batsman, he has to finish the game. It’s down to whoever is there, he has to finish the game.
“Whoever takes responsibility, bowler or batsman, whoever is the best tomorrow will win. Afghanistan have good experience players because most of the players play in franchise cricket.
“They have that experience, they know how to accelerate and they have confidence, a few from IPL and others have been playing franchise cricket. The important thing is pressure handling.
“I think they have more experience, especially handling pressure, and that's the big challenge for us. I believe if we do our best, we can see good finishing at the end of the day.”
Sri Lanka were World Cup finalists in 2007 and 2011 after winning the trophy in 1996, but they had only won two of their last 16 completed ODIs coming into this year’s tournament.
And despite their less than promising start, Malinga believes Sri Lanka have the ability to go far if they can pick up a confidence-boosting victory against Afghanistan in the Welsh capital.
“I think for our first match back against New Zealand, we know how tough these conditions are and we tried our best but it didn't go our way,” said the 35-year-old fast bowler.
“We have in this tournament nine matches, but it’s just our second match starting tomorrow and before the match both teams are the same - no runs, no wickets, still the same.
“Whoever is doing best first half innings, they can carry on the winning way. That's why we are looking forward to the game and trying to do our best after 10:30.
“We have talent but not much experience in these conditions and people to have to realise what the team expects in this situation. We see Dimuth had a good temperament to play this condition.
“I feel we have also top seven batsman and they have responsibility, but bowlers have a big role to play in the game as we never know what's going on, who is bowling first or second.
“Bowlers can change the game, I still believe that. I feel players need to get confidence, but we can improve skill at the moment and we need to get mentally tough as all the pressure is on us.”