Ind easier to beat overseas: Sangakkara
Adelaide, Feb 13: Former Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara feels his side were more likely to beat India away home where the latter enjoy an unarguable advantage. Ahead of their one-day encounter at the Adelaide Oval, the wicketkeeper batsman spoke about the difficult times faced by his team and the plan for the future.
Excerpts from Kumar Sangakkara’s pre-match press conference:
On the upcoming match against India
You have got to win a minimum of four games to have any chance of qualifying for the finals. Tomorrow is another opportunity.
On whether they could have beaten Australia in the last match
Yeah, I think so. We should have been one-up by now. Unfortunately, we aren’t. Tomorrow presents another opportunity. As soon as we get a game right, with the batsmen batting a lot better than they did and having more partnerships, we stand a very good chance.
On narrowly losing the match to Australia
I think it was close because Angelo Mathews really got there in the end. There was a time when we were out of it. It was a case of not building enough partnerships and losing too many wickets too soon. It is a wicket that was quite flat in the end. We just couldn’t capitalise on the opportunity. Once you have restricted [Australia] to 230, it’s a case of having enough batsmen in the shed by the time you hit the 40th over. We didn’t do that.
On the Perth wicket
I think the Perth wicket was good for us too. In the evening, under the lights, the wicket settles down beautifully and you can really enjoy batting. Adelaide Oval too has been as good for the batsmen over the years. Everyone is looking forward to it. Again, as a unit, we have got to be a bit smarter and also be able to win those big moments.
On India beating Australia at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday
I couldn’t see it, but we followed it. They needed 13 of the last over, but they managed it. Close game.
On whether they were expecting a good crowd for the match
We hope so. Just depends on whether there is a large enough expat community to fill up the ground. [It is] always good to play in front of large crowds. […] Sydney and Melbourne are traditionally where we get large crowds.
On chasing vs defending totals
Just depends on what you are comfortable doing. Some sides are comfortable chasing, some defending. Just a mindset, really. At the end of the day, it’s about doing your basics right and executing plans and winning games. Whatever you do, you have to do well.
On the chances of beating India
Our strength has always been playing India away from India. India are always strong in India, with the smaller grounds and conditions they are used to. But away from home we have always done very well against them.
On Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid
You want me to make a judgement call on Sachin and Dravid? I wish I was of a similar stature as Sachin, but then I have a long way to go. 7000 runs short, or more. It’s a game. It’s about how comfortable sides are. Sachin and Dravid have been amazing players. They still are. If you take Dravid’s England tour, it was amazing. Three centuries, carried the whole batting on his shoulders. Sachin’s still scoring runs, he’s still a valuable player. At the end of the day, you weigh up what happens in the dressing room. What influence everyone has in the dressing room is as important as the performance on the field. It’s really a call for India and [MS] Dhoni and the selectors but it’s hard to ever underestimate or downplay the abilities of Sachin and Dravid; they have been two of the best [the game has] ever produced.
On whether age was a criterion for success in the field
I don’t think so. It’s just a case of being fit. Age is not an issue as long as you are fit and performing. If you take the records of players, whether it is younger or older players, whoever has got the better technique and adapts quicker always scores runs. You can’t be 20 and not performing and in the side just because you are young. It’s better to have whoever is performing, whether he is 25, 35 or even 40, playing. Brad Hogg is a great example. Even at 40 he is bowling better than probably any other spinner in Australia when it comes to Twenty20. At the end of the day, performance is what really counts, and all the talk about age comes into play when you are not performing.
On senior players
[…] From our point of view, great players are great players, and they are there for that reason – being able to do the work expected of them. That is why everyone expects everything from people like Sachin. They know they can do it, they have done it before, and everyone knows they can do it again.
On the Sri Lankan team
We have evolved a lot in various ways. I think the last six months have been a bit tough for us, in the sense of direction and planning. Going forward it’s a case of getting our structure right […], letting everyone be as free as possible mentally, to be able to go out there and play. That’s one of the most important things for performance. Putting pressure on players for training, to get their game up to a level that’s needed to compete on the field. But when you enter a game, allow them to be as free as possible. If you are young, you don’t need any motivation. The greatest thing as a player is to be able to play. Whatever troubles you have off the field, whatever issues you have off the field, when you are on the park I don’t think anyone thinks of those things.
On whether the players have suffered an overdose of cricket
Really tough question to answer. […] It’s a tough one for a player to try and explain all of that. Scheduling is important, and to get the context when it comes to international cricket is important. To play every series within a meaningful context so that the players and the spectators all understand what that particular series is all about. Not just ad hoc tours to earn extra dollars, which again is important for the boards, so we need to strike the balance.
On changes in Sri Lankan cricket
The way the players think and the way those making decisions think doesn’t always add up. That’s the way cricket has always been. [Tillakaratne] Dilshan had a tough job, a tough six months. The decision-making group at the time, which included Dilshan, probably thought it was a tough period, they had to make some very tough decisions, but unfortunately we weren’t as successful as we were before. In competitive cricket, sometimes it’s all that counts. Unfortunately, Dilshan decided to resign. Then we have gone back to Mahela [Jayawardene], which at this time is a very good decision. We need grounding and a tighter structure [to decide] how we are going to progress over the next three years. Once it is set, it is easier for anyone else like Angelo Mathews, who will probably take over at some time. What you asked me you could direct to former selectors in the administration, really. […] . Ever since [Dilshan] took up the captaincy to the time he gave up, we have been very open with him. […] That’s always been the case. No use leaving anything unsaid or undone, better to [discuss] everything. That’s always been the case with our team. There’s always been very open and very honest communication.
On the lack of runs from him
Yeah, you do get disappointed. That’s the way the game is. You don’t score, you don’t score.