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T20 World Cup: Saturday's game against England quite important to end on a high, says Rajapaksa

Sydney, Nov 4 (IANS) Though Sri Lanka’s quest to reach the semifinals of the Men’s T20 World Cup depends on upset losses for New Zealand and Australia on Friday, left-handed batter Bhanuka Rajapaksa stated that their final Group 1 match in Super 12s against England at the Sydney Cricket Ground will be of high importance for them to end their campaign on a high.

Sri Lanka, the 2014 champions, managed to qualify from the first round after a shock 53-run opening defeat to Namibia. They then suffered heavy defeats against Australia and New Zealand in the Super 12, which means Sri Lanka are not in control of their fate for the semifinals.

“Preparations are just the same. We are coming here to justify our presence over here in Australia. We just want to play good cricket. At the end of the day, the result doesn’t really matter as long as we play some good cricket.

“We have already shown what we are capable of a couple of months back (by winning Asia Cup in the UAE), and it’s a strong side. Unfortunately, not all the results have come our way, but tomorrow’s game is quite important to end on a high note,” said Rajapaksa in the pre-match press conference.

What also adds more weight to the England-Sri Lanka clash is Chris Silverwood being the head coach of the island nation. Silverwood, who was England coach in the start of the year, lost his job after a 4-0 Ashes thrashing. But in his time with Sri Lanka, they have managed to grow as a side despite results not coming their way as often they would have liked.

“It’s just another game for him. He finished his stint in England a couple of months back, and he joined Sri Lanka, so now he’s our coach. It’s just another matter of playing a winning game; that’s about it. We’re just taking it game by game, so no pressure riding on the coach.

“He’s one coach that we’ve been looking forward to his input, and the input has been quite straightforward and the clarity is there. There’s no limits with him, so we’ve been really pushed hard. He just wants us to get better every day, and it’s quite simple. There’s so much clarity, and he’s been great, and we’ll get better hopefully in the future,” added Rajapaksa.

Sri Lanka have also been hampered by a slew of injuries in the tournament, losing pacers Dushmantha Chameera, Dilshan Madushanka replacement player Binura Fernando and left-handed batter Danushka Gunathilaka apart from many suffering niggles.

“Ifs are not going to help us now, but, of course, it has impacted the performance of the side. But it’s not an excuse. Everyone wants to perform, it’s a major tournament. You can’t blame it on (the injuries). We hope the guys will get better and strong when the next World Cup happens (in 2024),” concluded Rajapaksa.

–IANS

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