Sangakkara: We must focus
Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara insists his side will not be affected by complacency as they head into a home World Cup semi-final buoyed by a 10-wicket victory over England.
Openers Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan required no help to guide their team past England’s total of 229 on Saturday, but that will count for nothing as New Zealand provide tomorrow’s opposition at the R Premadasa Stadium.
The Black Caps have already sprung one surprise in the knock-out stages, dumping out South Africa in the last eight, and Sangakkara said: “There’s no room for complacency at all and there’s no chance of that happening in anyone’s minds.
“The main reason it seemed an easier match than we expected (against England) was because our openers put on a magnificent performance. Those kind of partnerships don’t come round too often.
“Tomorrow is the only day that counts at this moment. It’s a new game; it’s nothing to do with England. We are starting from square one.”
Sri Lanka’s build-up has been dominated by anxiety over the fitness of legendary spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who is suffering from knee and thigh problems.
Sangakkara said: “Murali and everybody around him are trying to get him as fit as possible and ready to play.
“He knocked his knee in Mumbai and aggravated a quadricep injury in the game before that, so we’ll monitor how he goes and hope he’s fit enough.
“If he can play that will be great; if not we have enough cover. We have a couple of fast bowlers such as Nuwan Kulasekara, who has done exceptionally well.”
New Zealand were beaten semi-finalists in 1975, 1979, 1992, 1999 and 2007, the latest defeat coming against Sri Lanka.
Skipper Daniel Vettori said: "Everyone wants to talk about our record, but this is an amazing achievement for a small country.
"We have our expectations, it's irrelevant what people say. We reached the Champions Trophy final in 2009, there we went one step further."
The Kiwis have been inconsistent in the current tournament, suffering heavy defeats to Australia and Sri Lanka in the group stage despite also recording 10-wicket wins over Kenya and Zimbabwe.
"When we've won well, we've followed it up with a poor performance. We can’t afford to be up and down,” added Vettori, who is standing down as captain after the World Cup.
“We’ve had our up performance and we've got to make sure we have another big performance in the bag because Sri Lanka will be very strong in home conditions.
"It was Jesse Ryder and Jacob Oram who did it against South Africa. That made the difference and it may have to be someone else who does it now."