Sri Lanka looks to improve against Bangladesh in World Cup
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Sri Lanka captain Angelo Matthews acknowledges his team must improve if it wants to reach its seventh-straight Cricket World Cup quarterfinal, and faces a familiar foe in Bangladesh on Thursday as it attempts to rediscover its form.
The 1996 World Cup champion — and runner-up in the two previous tournaments — lost the tournament opener by 98 runs to New Zealand and looked unconvincing in a four-wicket win over newcomer Afghanistan, despite another century from veteran Mahela Jayawardene.
“We’ve got to win games and the last game was a close one, but a win is a win,” Matthews said Wednesday. “We’ll take that win, but I think we need to improve our standards to go further in this tournament.”
“We’ve got to be positive in our approach. We’ve got to score runs to give the bowlers a chance. The attitude on the field also has to be improved, so that’s what we are concentrating (on).”
Sri Lanka will take the field at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as heavy favorite with a record of 32 wins from 37 one-day internationals against Bangladesh, including a 3-0 whitewash last year.
“Bangladesh have performed really well in the recent past. It’s a World Cup game. It’s going to be a pressure game for all of us.”
Bangladesh’s 105-run win over Afghanistan may have been expected from a test-playing country against an associate nation, but captain Mashrafe Mortaza said it represented progress.
“We lost to Afghanistan in the Asia Cup last year and many people thought they will win again, but look what happened,” Mortaza said. “We won easily and the same can happen again.
“We have defeated Sri Lanka in recent times and can do so again if we play to our potential.”
Bangladesh is unbeaten, as its scheduled second game against Australia was rained out in Brisbane last week, and preparing for its first-ever appearance at the famed MCG.
“We may not have played here before but we can’t let that worry us,” Mortaza said.
The International Cricket Board on Thursday approved the inclusion of left-handed batsman Upul Tharanga to the Sri Lanka squad as replacement for Jeevan Mendis, who sustained a hamstring injury in training Tuesday.
Matthews was not sure if the Tharanga will be included in Thursday’s lineup.
“He’ll be arriving tonight,” he said. “Hopefully he’ll be in contention, but among the managers and selectors we’ll decide whether we want to play him or not.”
Bangladesh wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim was also hurt in training Tuesday and was taken to a hospital for x-rays after being hit on the right thumb by a ball from teammate Taskin Ahmed.
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza said Rahim is cleared to play against Sri Lanka.
“He’s totally fine now. He had nets today as well, so he’s good,” Mortaza said Wednesday.