Being a part of the World Cup has been every bit as exciting as I imagined it would be, especially being at home. There is a permanent buzz about it all around Sri Lanka and the cricket is seemingly on everyone’s lips all of the time.
As for the cricket, we have played three matches so far and very professionally and decisively dealt with two of the minnow teams, while losing to Pakistan, one of the powerhouse teams on their day. It is a loss however from which we can take many positives, especially in the manner of our fight back with both bat and ball despite poor starts in both respects. Pakistan looked to be heading for a 300-plus total at one stage and we did well to restrict them to 277.
Similarly, when chasing, while Upul Tharanga and Tillakeratne Dilshan did indeed give us an excellent start, we still found ourselves four wickets down for under a hundred with all four wickets falling in quick succession. From a bowling point of view, there is no greater method for curbing run rates and applying pressure than taking wickets and that is what we suffered from ourselves in our run chase. But, despite being outplayed for much of the game, we can take heart that we came as close as we did, particularly as our target was a fairly substantial one. I also think that the loss will serve to keep us more on our toes, not that of course we are unaware of how great a task it is to succeed in a tournament of this kind, regardless of the ‘expectations’ and ‘predictions’ of others.
Playing at the renovated Premadasa Stadium in front of the biggest crowd that I have experienced was also very special and the manner in which Sri Lankan supporters have got behind their team was great to see and of course, very much appreciated.
Tomorrow is perhaps the most anticipated game by the fans when we meet the winners of the last three World Cups, Australia. Apart from the great interest of course, it is a very important game for us in terms of staying close to the top of the points table in our group after our loss to Pakistan. It is also vital from the point of view of enhancing our self-belief and confidence and I think it is safe to say that both teams will go all out to play positive cricket from the outset.
The R. Premadasa Stadium is going to be bursting at the seams tomorrow and I hope that we can give our supporters much to cheer about. We certainly are confident and will do our very best.