'Lucky' man Collingwood full of verve
England came up trumps again for “lucky guy” Paul Collingwood today to book themselves and their captain a place in the ICC World Twenty20 final.
Collingwood’s team trounced Sri Lanka by seven wickets in the semi-finals at the Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia and will face Australia or defending champions Pakistan, who meet tomorrow, in Sunday’s showdown at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.
The prospect of facing Australia at the start of an Ashes year brought an instant smile to the England captain’s face, but he will have to wait for the outcome of tomorrow’s second semi-final before he can start making firm plans.
As for today’s performance, Collingwood was delighted after his team produced the goods again to win their fourth successive match at this tournament.
“It was a pressure game, a semi-final,” he said, after England had easily chased 128 for six to win with four full overs to spare.
“I’m going to sound like a broken record, but the bowlers have adapted superbly well again after we lost the toss on what I thought was a very good pitch.
“The fielding was spot on; we held our catches and restricted them to a score that was obviously very gettable on that surface.
“I’m just delighted that we turned up in such a pressurised situation.”
Collingwood is wary of assumption about who may be England’s next opponents.
But asked about the prospect of facing Australia, and comparing his team with theirs, he said: “We are not far off. They are a very powerful side themselves and obviously have a lot of pace in their attack.
“It’s going to be a proper head-to-head, that one on Sunday – if we were to play Australia.
“We are just happy to be in the final, but we haven’t won anything yet. I am going to keep drilling that into the guys – we haven’t won anything yet but we’ve got ourselves into a position to win. That’s a thing I’m delighted about.
“I think everybody on the outside would want to see an England-Australia game. But you’ve got to be careful. Pakistan are still a very dangerous side.
“You’ve got to show them a lot of respect - they are the world champions - so no matter who we come up against, we are going to have to continue to play the way we have played and hope that will be good enough.”
Whether England rise to the occasion or not, Collingwood is already a proud captain of a team who have done everything right so far.
“I’m just a lucky guy who’s putting a few fielders around everywhere,” he joked.
“They have been very easy to captain, and I am sure over the next couple of days we will continue with the confidence-building all the way through.
“We will keep that belief in us and hit Sunday as hard as we have over the past week and a half.”
For beaten Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara, it was a day to regret - and then forget.
“It was a good wicket to bat on, and 150 was a realistic target,” he said. “In the first six overs, if we’d got 40 runs with wickets in hand we could have accelerated through the middle - but we lost three wickets early.
“Angelo Mathews played very well, but we didn’t bat smartly today.”
Whether former World Cup winner Sanath Jayasuriya, who made one run and bowled one over for 15, may soon have reached the end of his career, at the age of almost 41, is a moot point.
“Unfortunately he didn’t have a great run,” Sangakkara conceded. “But to his credit, he stuck with the team through a difficult period - and the team stuck with him.
“He showed a lot of support, and we made sure he felt wanted. Unfortunately he didn’t deliver, but we still had more than enough quality to do better than we did today.”