It’s time for the senior players in the Proteas squad to step up and take responsibility, says Hashim Amla ahead of the crucial quarterfinal match against Sri Lanka on Wednesday.
‘There is no doubt that when you get to the knockout stages you want to be the guy to score the big runs to put the team in a good position,’ he said at the squad’s training session held in Blacktown on Sunday. ‘Everybody in the team, especially the senior guys, want to be the guys to make the big plays for us; with the bat, ball and in the field.’
The added incentive is that winning this match would give the Proteas their first win in a knockout match in the World Cup. Previous formats had allowed them to get to the semifinals without a quarterfinal.
‘We are well aware that we haven’t won a knockout game and that serves as good motivation for the guys to make it a first for South African cricket,’ he said.
The Proteas went through in second place in their pool without really providing the complete all-round performance, relying on outstanding individual performances,and they lost two matches – against India and Pakistan – while trying to chase a target. Sri Lanka also lost two matches to end third in Pool A, but they still retain a cutting edge, particularly with such players as Kumar Sangakkara and Lasith Malinga.
Sangakkara, particularly, is growing in stature as the tournament develops. The lefy hander, who will retire from ODIs after this tournament became the first Sri Lankan and the only batsman after India’s Sachin Tendulkar to pass 14,000 runs in ODIs.
In the last group match against Scotland, Sangakkara achieved another milestone with 124 runs as he became the first player to score four successive ODI centuries.
‘Sri Lanka are a wonderful team, they compete very well at World Cups,’ said Amla. ‘They seem to be playing good cricket. Thankfully we have played them in the recent past, both teams know each other well. A one-off game like this will be played with good intensity, it’s going to be a good game.’
The Proteas held a lengthy and intense training session on Sunday morning to kick-start their preparation, and looked a renewed and focused unit three days out of the encounter.
‘The guys are raring to go,’ Amla said. ‘We have been fortunate that we were at home for the build-up of this tournament. Most of the guys are fresh, some of the other teams have been away from home for a long time, and thankfully we are fresh and keen to make a good play on Wednesday.’