Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews has set his side the target of reaching the semi-finals of the ICC Champions Trophy, which gets underway in England and Wales on 6th June.
Sri Lanka are in a group with hosts England, reigning champions Australia and New Zealand, who have been in England since earlier this month and are always competitive.
Nevertheless, Sri Lanka go into the tournament having reached the final of the 2011 World Cup and with a number of their players having been involved in the recent Indian Premier League 2013.
"Well, we had some good preparation in the past couple of months I would say, and most of the boys were in India, and the boys were in Sri Lanka, they had some good preparation through playing some practice games, as well," Mathews said at a pre-tournament press conference.
"We are all professionals, and there has been a little bit of doubt; people kept saying that the boys are in India and they haven’t had good preparation, but I want to write it off because we are professionals and we need to sort of get prepared for this kind of tournament because it’s a huge event for everyone, personally and as a team. So I think we’ve done our preparation as a team and individually."
And Mathews admits that the challenge of facing England, Australia and New Zealand is a stiff challenge.
"Australia and New Zealand, they’re quite used to the conditions, especially in England, and with the two new balls, it’s going to be tough.
"But I think our boys are up for the challenge, and if we want to go far in the tournament, I think we’ve got to beat all the teams that come our way. I think at this point our main objective is to try to get to the semifinals, but I think that’s too far ahead. We need to try to take one game at a time and try and win those.
"We’ve been a pretty good outfit in the past few years, but we’ve been pretty consistent in the past so many years. As I said before, we have played so many finals and semifinals and lost it from there.
"But as for now, our main objective is to try to get to the semifinals. But yeah, most teams won’t be complacent with us, but I think that that’s a platform because we need to raise the bar a bit."
Mathews will need to count on the experienced players in his squad, among them strike bowlers Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara.
"Guys like Malinga, Kulasekara, they’ve been our strike bowlers the past couple of years or rather three, four years, so we bank on them, and also, we’re not banking on any individual. We’ve got the 15 players we can walk into the team any given day. So I think if they can try and get the basics right we can go a long way.
"If you do the basics right, as I said before, if you’ve done pretty well in the past World Cups, in the Twenty20s, World Cups, as well, so I think we’ve got to a stage where we’ve done pretty well and lasted from there. So I think if we can get this right this time, it would be awesome."
Sri Lanka, who shared the trophy with India in 2002, begin their campaign against New Zealand on 9th June before taking on England (13th June) and finally Australia (17th June).
© Cricket World 2013
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