LONDON (Reuters) - A young Sri Lanka team must play with arrogance if they are to upset holders India in Thursday’s Champions Trophy match at the Oval, former captain Kumar Sangakkara has said.
The islanders had a nightmare start to their campaign, losing regular skipper Angelo Mathews to a calf injury before going down to South Africa in their Group B opener.
As if that was not bad enough, stand-in skipper Upul Tharanga was then slapped with a two-match suspension for the team’s slow over rate in the Proteas defeat.
They next face the formidable task of taking on a rampant India side who crushed arch-rivals Pakistan on Sunday despite not being at their best.
“I would personally like this young Sri Lanka side to walk out at The Oval and play with the arrogance and abandon of youth,” Sangakkara wrote in his column for the cricket governing body website. (www.icc-cricket.com)
“They should express their talent and play a really positive brand of cricket. If they are able to do this, then they have a chance of pulling off an upset, but it will not be easy an India team that so confidently overwhelmed Pakistan on Sunday.”
The prospect of a return for Mathews represents a major boost for the squad but Sangakkara stressed they badly needed to resolve their shockingly poor over rate.
“If Angelo, Sri Lanka’s best batsman and captain, is deemed unavailable for this vital clash, it could severely hamper the team’s chances of winning against India,” the former wicketkeeper-batsman added.
”Even if Angelo is considered fit, the threat of slow over-rate will be a major concern. Having Tharanga suspended is a huge waste.
“With quite an experienced and senior bowling attacked led by (seamer) Lasith Malinga, a team constituting two spinners, it is unacceptable that Sri Lanka was over by 39 minutes.”
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by John O'Brien