HAMBANTOTA: Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene hit back at suggestions that his team has ‘choked’ in major finals, saying he would rather be a runner-up than an also-ran.
Jayawardene, speaking on the eve of the hosts’ World Twenty20 opener against Zimbabwe, said it was a tribute to Sri Lanka that they had reached three global title matches since winning the 1996 World Cup.
“A lot of people have asked us why we have choked in the finals before,” said Jayawardene. “I’d rather be in that situation than being knocked out in the earlier rounds. So that means we are doing something pretty good in these big tournaments and we hope to continue that in World Twenty20 here.
“Sri Lanka is a cricket-crazy country and the expectations from us will be high. People will back us so we need to enjoy that.”
He warned that Zimbabwe, who upset Australia at the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007, needed to be taken seriously in today’s match. Jayawardene also admitted that home expectations were sky-high now that Sri Lanka were now about to end their 16-year hunt for a second world title, with the benefit of home advantage and a balanced team.
“We are a good team and can be attacking and very competitive. We need to be at our best and not get complacent.”
Sri Lanka’s all-round skills in batting and bowling, with spinner Ajantha Mendis back after a long injury lay-off, make them strong favourites for today.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2012.
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