Pressure on both teams: Sangakkara


COLOMBO – Kumar Sangakkara refuses to believe Sri Lanka will be the only side under pressure before a packed home crowd in their quarter-final on Saturday, saying England will also feel the intensity.
The 1996 winners go into the last of four quarter-finals with huge expectations, but Sangakkara was confident his players were capable of handling the situation. “What you lose is a semi-final berth, so I don’t think any side is going to want to lose that. So wherever you play that incentive is going to be there and all sides feel that pressure equally,” said Sangakkara.
“I think it will be there (pressure), but that kind of thinking goes out of the window when you cross the boundary rope. I am sure players will feel the crowd, they’ll lift themselves and do well.” Sri Lanka, runners-up to Australia in the 2007 World Cup held in the West Indies, lost to Pakistan and had their game against Australia washed out on their way to the last eight stages.
And Sangakkara felt his players were ready to give their best against England who have endured a roller-coaster tournament, losing to Ireland and Bangladesh but beating South Africa and the West Indies. They also tied their first match against India. “It’s a do-or-die so my guys are pretty much focussed, very well tuned into what’s happening and they’ll look to do everything they can to win,” said Sangakkara.
The winners of Saturday’s match will meet either South Africa or New Zealand — playing their quarter-final in Dhaka on Friday — in the semi-finals in Colombo on March 29. “I think England are one of the best sides in this tournament,” said Sangakkara of England, the current World Twenty20 champions but who have never won a 50-over World Cup.
“They have won close games so we know how tough they can be. We are expecting nothing less than the best from them,” said Sangakkara of England who have beaten Sri Lanka in six of previous eight World Cup matches. Off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has recovered from a hamstring injury sustained during the group match win over New Zealand last week and will play on Saturday.
“Murali is fine, he is 100 per cent which is great for us,” said Sangakkara of the highest one-day wicket taker, with 530 victims, and Sri Lanka’s only survivor of their quarter-final win over England in the 1996 World Cup. “He’s a guy who rises to occasion and does really well in big games.”