MUMBAI, March 31: Sri Lanka are confident ahead of the World Cup final against India and the win over New Zealand in the last-four stage was an ideal tune-up for Saturday’s summit clash at the Wankhede Stadium, according to middle-order batsman Mahela Jayawardene.
“We are very confident going into the game on Saturday. The guys are really excited. We batted brilliantly and were positive in our approach (in the semifinal at Colombo on March 29), but we had wobbled in a couple of overs where they put some pressure on us,” he said.
“The guys came out very well, but you need that kind of games under your belt going into the best part of the tournament,” said the former Lanka skipper ahead of the first all-Asian final in the tournament’s 36-year-old history.
”We had a very good chat how we are going to approach the final. For a lot of players it was a dream to play for Sri Lanka and now they are on the verge of winning the World Cup,” the 33-year-old stylish batsman remarked. “We are quite happy overall if you take the tournament. We have handled situations very well, something spoken about. The bowlers, batsmen and everyone has risen to the occasion,” said Jayawardene, who led the team to the final of the last edition in the West Indies, where they lost to Australia.
While Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and a few other players, prior to the tournament, said that they wanted to win the coveted title for the team’s elder statesman Sachin Tendulkar, Sri Lanka do not carry similar sentiments for their own iconic cricketer Mutthiah Muralitharan, Jayawardene said.
“We started the World Cup thinking we would win it for Sri Lanka. I don’t think we want to change that. Even Murali would have the same sentiment as well. He wants to win it for Sri Lanka,” said Jayawardene.
Jayawardene said the team, as a group, has put behind the mauling it received at the hands of retired Australian great Adam Gilchrist in the 2007 final, when the hard-hitting wicketkeeper-batsman made a match-winning 149 off only 104 balls with 8 sixes and 13 fours.
Replying to a question whether Lanka feared a similar assault from Indian openers Sachin Tendulkar or Virender Sehwag, he said, “You might never know Lasith Malinga will have a brilliant day or Murali, for that matter. I hope our guys will do something different. In the 2007 World Cup final, Gilly did play that brilliant knock and we never had the opportunity to get into the game.”
”It was an unfortunate episode. We have put it behind and moved on. We have done very well after that as a group. We are really motivated to be consistent and, to be right here in the final, speaks a lot of volumes about our character,” he said.