Karunaratne reveals Sri Lanka World Cup pep talks
AFP – Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne has revealed stirring speeches from two of his country’s greats provided the perfect preparation for their bid to win the World Cup.
Karunaratne’s side start their campaign against New Zealand in Cardiff on Saturday, with motivational pep talks from Arjuna Ranatunga and Kumar Sangakkara ringing in their ears.
The Sri Lankans won the World Cup in 1996 but enter this edition in England and Wales on a terrible run of form, winning just one of their past nine one-day internationals.
Ranatunga, who captained Sri Lanka to their famous World Cup victory, and Sangakkara, one of his country’s greatest batsmen, both spoke to Karunaratne’s squad ahead of the tournament in a bid to lift the mood.
"Sanga came and gave us some words of advice, which was really helpful. He did really well in the last World Cup, so it was useful to hear how he prepared, mentally and everything else," Karunaratne said.
"Arjuna, who lifted the World Cup in 1996, he spoke to us and gave us advice before we left Sri Lanka.
"That is the sort of thing we need to be courageous, past cricketers coming in and helping us. Mahela (Jayawardene) is also here and we hope he will come and talk to us as soon as possible."
Karunaratne had not played an ODI for four years until the victory against Scotland on May 21, but his leadership is crucial, as he showed in Sri Lanka’s Test series win in South Africa earlier this year.
Sri Lanka have six players who have won 80 or more ODI caps, including veteran paceman Lasith Malinga, but there are several new players on board as well and Karunaratne said the fresh faces would not be star-struck on the global stage.
"All the other guys who have played in the last couple of years failed to perform for Sri Lanka," Karunaratne said.
"That is why the selectors want to give a new chance to the players who have done well domestically.
"That was the past. We have a good side with fresh faces, and are trying to start again. We are trying to be ready for the World Cup and I think we are."