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Cricket World Cup: Tillakaratne Dilshan column

ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 quarter-final: Sri Lanka v England
Venue: Colombo Date: Saturday, 26 March (0900 GMT)
Coverage: Highlights on BBC Two (see listings), Red Button & online at 2200 GMT (UK only); live Test Match Special commentary (BBC 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW and online); text commentary online and mobiles; live on Sky Sports

Sri Lanka's Tillakaratne Dilshan celebrates with captain Kumar Sangakkara after taking the wicket of New Zealand's Nathan McCullum

On Saturday we play England in the World Cup quarter-finals and we go into the match confident that we will emerge victorious with a place in the last four secured.

It is a great advantage to be playing in front of a home crowd and our form so far in the tournament makes us confident that we can beat England.

A lot has been made of the fact that they have won six out of eight previous World Cup encounters against us but we are not worried by past history, in any case recent history is in our favour as we beat England in the last World cup in the Caribbean.

Unlike the Sri Lanka team, England have had an inconsistent campaign during the group stage of this World Cup and only just scraped into the quarter-finals. However they have been impressive at times and I don't know which team we will meet on Saturday; the team that lost to Ireland and Bangladesh, or the squad that tied with India and beat South Africa.

However our consistency should work in our favour. Even India have been struggling on the turning wickets in Sri Lanka but we know how to perform at home and have a great record when hosting.

In India even 300 runs is a gettable total on flat wickets, but in Sri Lanka it is difficult to chase a target of 240-260 runs. England's struggles on turning wickets so far in this tournament only add to our confidence.

I think we have the best bowling attack in this World Cup and so England are definitely going to struggle against our bowling attack, which includes quality spinners.

Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara celebrates his first century at the World Cup
Captain Kumar Sangakkara became the fourth Sri Lankan to score 9000 ODI runs

England have also not been helped by injuries and loss of form affecting key players - Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad have gone home while James Anderson and Paul Collingwood have struggled.

In Eoin Morgan they have a player who is good against spin but he might not be a concern for us as he has not had much experience of facing our attack.

Similarly Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott are in good form but they haven't played against Muttiah Muralitharan for the last three or four years. And as well as Murali we have Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath waiting for a chance to make an impact, while I am also happy with my own bowling.

Indian great Sunil Gavaskar might have predicted that England would qualify for the semi-finals on Saturday but our focus is on how to progress rather than worrying about people's opinions.

In any case he shouldn't forget that England have already lost to two minnows and were less than convincing against Netherlands and West Indies.

The main issue in our team has centred on chief selector Aravinda de Silva's criticism of the middle order batting.

Sri Lanka's Tillakaratne Dilshan

Drop denies Dilshan hat-trick

During the group stage the openers - myself and Upul Tharanga and then Mahela Jayawardene and captain Kumar Sangakkara - have all performed so there haven't been the opportunities for the lower middle order to raise their game.

Even Mahela did not have much opportunity to play as the top order has been in good form, while it shouldn't be forgotten that Thilan Samaraweera helped to build a partnership when the top order failed against Australia. Chamara Silva and Angelo Mathews have also stepped in when needed.

As a former middle-order batsmen I understand the pressure they can come under.

When you come to bat in the last 10 overs, you try your best to play big shots and try not to think about your individual score. The players know their roles and we should be encouraging them to increase their confidence.

Personally, though, I am not worried about our middle order or any of the team as we look to book a place in the semi-finals.

Whether it is New Zealand or South Africa, we are prepared to meet any team after Saturday's encounter, although we are taking nothing for granted.

Tillakaratne Dilshan was speaking to Saroj Pathirana of the BBC Sinhala Service.



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see also
Muralitharan fit for England game
25 Mar 11 |  Cricket
Collingwood to have knee surgery
23 Mar 11 |  England
England 'do not fear Sri Lanka'
22 Mar 11 |  England
Sangakkara and Murali see off Kiwis
19 Mar 11 |  Cricket
Record stand helps Sri Lanka win
10 Mar 11 |  Cricket
Tillakaratne Dilshan World Cup column
10 Mar 11 |  Sri Lanka
Tillakaratne Dilshan World Cup column
06 Mar 11 |  Sri Lanka
Tillakaratne Dilshan World Cup column
26 Feb 11 |  Sri Lanka
Cricket World Cup 2011
09 Mar 11 |  Cricket


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