England will be underdogs against Sri Lanka: Prior
Colombo: England will go into Saturday`s World Cup quarterfinal against Sri Lanka as "underdogs" after failing to live up to their reputation in the league stage of the tournament, said English wicketkeeper batsman Matt Prior.
Prior admitted that England are yet to play their best cricket in the World Cup with every game of their group stage campaign going down to the wire.
England squeezed into the last eight as group B`s fourth-placed team after a roller-coaster group stage campaign during which they beat table-toppers South Africa, the West Indies and the Netherlands, tied against India but lost to minnows Ireland and Bangladesh.
"We haven`t played our best cricket by a long way, but we are still in the quarters. We have not even got anywhere near what we can do so there will be no pressure and we go into the match as underdogs against a very strong Sri Lanka team," Prior told reporters.
But Prior struck a confident note when he said the English side can defeat the 1996 champions Sri Lanka if they do well in all three departments of the game.
"If we do come out and play as a team and get all our three disciplines right, we are going to be very hard to beat. As a team we are in a fantastic place."
He added that the narrow 18-run win over the West Indies in their concluding group B tie at Chennai last week was a huge morale booster.
"That win showed that we will not be beaten easily. We have a huge amount of resilience and a huge amount of fire in this group. That win gave us a huge amount of belief and a huge amount of confidence," said Prior.
The wicketkeeper-batsman said anything short of a World Cup triumph will be a disappointment for England.
"We came to win the World Cup, and if you leave this World Cup having not won it, you will be disappointed. You haven`t achieved your goal.
"Every one knows that we haven`t played well, but we are in a quarter-final, and anything can happen. We have got three games to win and we`ll be world champions. To win the Ashes and the World Cup in a winter is something quite phenomenal," said the 29-year-old.
Prior has had a poor World Cup with the bat so far, scoring just 56 runs in five innings. The last two innings saw him open the batting alongside skipper Andrew Strauss in the wake of regular opener Kevin Pietersen`s return to England for hernia operation.
And Prior said he was enjoying opening the innings with Strauss.
"I am absolutely bewildered by it. When I was told I would be opening when KP went down, it wasn`t a done decision for the whole tournament.
"I think as a batter, as a unit, one of our major strengths is that we adapt very well to different teams, different conditions. I don`t think any batsman in the top six or seven has a particular argument about where they`ll bat," he said.