Winning is good, but what counts are future games: Sangakkara
Mumbai: The winning momentum is important but Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara on Thursday said sides assured of quarterfinal berths in the ongoing World Cup would not be too disappointed if they lose their final group encounters as they would be planning for the knockout stage.
"Any side will like to build the momentum and take it to the really important (knock-out) stage. At the same time sides who might not win the final first round games won`t be too much worried about that as the quarters, semis and finals are what really count," said the wicketkeeper-batsman on the eve of the match against New Zealand, also assured of a berth in the knockout stage.
Tomorrow`s game followed by the Australia-Pakistan one in Colombo the following day will decide the order of the four qualifiers in Group `A`, but Sangakkara was not particularly worried about where the team would finish in the top-four teams.
"This round we are going into is a do-or-die and what happened before won`t really matter unless it takes a psychological toll on that particular side. We are trying to play as best as we can. We are not looking too far ahead, trying to concentrate on tomorrow`s game, and if we win take that confidence going forward," said the 33-year-old who is 49 runs short of joining the 9000-run club in ODIs.
According to the 287-ODI veteran, tracks in India were a lot more balanced for chasing or setting a target than those back home in Lanka.
"Wickets in India seem to be a lot more balanced than wickets in Sri Lanka. A side batting first or chasing is not in too much of a disadvantage here, whereas in Sri Lanka conditions do change to give a slight advantage to certain sides. Totals also seem to be higher here," he remarked.
Sangakkara dismissed his side had a psychological edge having beaten New Zealand four times against two losses to the Black Caps in six World Cup outings.
"When you are playing in a World Cup, the past does not matter. For us it is about going back to basics, covering all our bases, and taking the opportunities that present themselves tomorrow," he declared.
Sangakkara was not worried about the lack of opportunities for his middle-order batsmen till now in the tournament and expressed confidence they will stand up and deliver when required.
"When the time comes the guys will really step up, that`s what they are for. In the other games, they really did not get much of a go. Probably (they had) one bad failure in the Pakistan game. We were pretty solid against Australia (in the rain washed out encounter in Lanka) and in the other games the middle order did not have much to do," Sangakkara said.
"The real tests will come and the guys are really capable of stepping up when the situations arise. They are good enough to do the job," he said in an optimistic vein.
On Tillakaratne Dilshan, who shone with both bat and ball in their previous tie against Zimbabwe, the Lanka skipper said the experienced player was very crucial to their team in all three aspects of the game.
"All three aspects of Dilshan`s game are very important to us - his batting, bowling and fielding. (He has) got the knack of doing something special in either discipline," he said in Dilshan`s praise.
Sangakkara said the Black Caps will miss their injured senior members -- captain Daniel Vettori and pacer Kyle Mills -- and the player who steps in would have to be studied carefully by his team.
"They are two very important players. At the same time, they will also be keen to do well without those two players. Whenever a good player goes out it creates an opportunity for someone else to step up and deliver. We will have to work out and see who comes in and how to counter them if we have played them before," he said.
Sangakkara said teams should not concentrate too much on the batting powerplays in which quite a few sides, notably India, have come unstuck, and they should be used judiciously and for different strategies apart from scoring quick runs.
"(You) should not let powerplays dominate too much of your thought and strategy. You can sometimes get too caught up in that. Fifty overs is a long time. You have to be really mindful that the word Powerplay does not really mean that, it`s about how you take advantage of it.
"Ireland scored 60-odd runs in their Power Play (during the upset Group `B` victory in Bangalore). That`s about the only team which has done exceptionally well. If you tend to do too much in that five-over period, it can cost you and canturn games.”
"You can use it to use up overs of key bowlers of opposition. You can use it to gather momentum. Scoring a huge amount of runs is not the only strategy you can use," he explained.