Mumbai: Sri Lanka vice captain Mahela Jayawardene today said they will not take New Zealand lightly in their group-position deciding match on Friday even though the Black Caps would be without skipper Daniel Vettori and experienced paceman Kyle Mills.
The two teams will clash to determine the final position in the group A and the outcome of the match will then decide their respective opponents in the knockout stage.
"I think those two guys probably are the senior-most bowlers in their line up. But then again we can`t take anything lightly. What I have seen of New Zealand is that they always play as a unit. Individuals come out and perform but they always play as a team and that`s where they are very dangerous," Jaywardene said.
"Especially with Daniel and Mills not being there, they might get together and have a different game plan against us. That`s something we have to look forward to. For us it`s all about making sure we execute our game plan," said the 33-year-old veteran of 337 ODIs.
Jayawardene said it was not ideal to plan for the knock-out phase before knowing who their opponents were.
"We can`t pick and choose who we want to play in the quarter-finals. All we want to do is to play some good cricket take some confidence into the next round, play whoever comes across (as our opponents) and give our best," said the batsman who has amassed 9253 runs in ODIs with 13 hundreds.
"We have spoken very little about it (quarter-finals) because there are a lot of equations. Anything can happen. We want to concentrate on the New Zealand game and finish high up in our group. We have prepared for the World Cup knowing we can go all the way and win it. So for us to do that we have to play anybody; that`s our attitude," he said.
Jayawardene did not think his team`s past record against the Black Caps was a factor to tag the Lankans as the favourites.
"I don`t think so when you come to a big tournament. In this tournament we have seen that particularly. On a given day anyone can beat anybody. It`s a very open tournament. (It’s) important how you get yourself into a rhythm now especially given the fact we have come to the business part of the tournament. So you want to try and execute what you want to execute, brush up on areas which you want to brush up."
He also saw the plus points of having to play this last tie away from home after having played the first five games in Sri Lanka, especially in bonding the team.
"The wicket here is probably slightly different, bit more flat I guess. The ground seems to be small as well than what we play at home. But we have to adjust. Playing anywhere (outside Colombo) would be an advantage.”
"When we are at home as a team there are so many things that are happening. We hardly spend time together. When we were in Kandy we spent quality time, and Hambantota we had quality time as a team. (But) when we are in Colombo there is something or the other happening. We only practice, come back and everyone goes away.”
"When we came to India we had a couple of really good days when we played some game together had some activities. It`s a good thing for the team as well to come out of Sri Lanka and bond together, analyze a bit more as a team, what we need to do. All in all it`s an advantage," was how he saw it.
Jayawardene said while the team`s batting has a settled look, they have shuffled the bowling combination as per the opponents and conditions.
"We have so many options with our bowling attack. The batting seems pretty much sorted. We have played bowlers according to conditions and opposition. It has worked for us. We will see what is going to be the best combination to play
New Zealand," he said.
About his own batting, Jayawardene wished he could spend some time in the middle ahead of the quarter-finals.
"Hopefully if I can bat long enough. (I) haven`t had the chance to bat in the last two games. Hopefully I could spend some time out in the middle. I have been hitting pretty well.”
"Against Pakistan I got a very good one from Shoaib (Akhtar) - he delivers one of those on a few occasions. Against Australia I got run out after a great start. The other two games I did not get a knock. I would love to spend some more time in the middle before the quarter finals," he said.