Sri Lanka’s stand-in captain Lasith Malinga says his team will handle the pressure of their do-or-die match against New Zealand on Monday to reach the World Twenty20 semi-finals.
The paceman will lead Sri Lanka in the absence of Dinesh Chandimal who was suspended for one match over his team’s slow over-rate – Sri Lanka’s second such penalty in 12 months.
“We have always won the crucial match and came into the finals. So I think we’ve handled that pressure well, always in the past, and the players are ready for tomorrow,” said Malinga on Sunday.
The Group One match has become a virtual quarter-final for both the teams, sitting on four points each after three games.
Whoever wins will join South Africa in the semi-finals, with India already qualified for the last four from Group Two.
Left-handed batsman Lahiru Thirimanne, player of the tournament in Sri Lanka’s Asia Cup triumph earlier this month, is likely to replace Chandimal in the squad.
Malinga said his players weren’t thinking of the opposition.
“We are thinking about our players and their skill – how to develop that and that’s a very important thing. We have to improve our skill and put our 100 per cent into the match,” said Malinga, whose team lost their last game against England by six wickets.
Malinga, who has never captained Sri Lanka before, said he looked forward to the experience.
“I am not thinking about my captaincy but we want to win the match. I have Mahela (Jayawardene), Kumar (Sangakkara) (Tillakaratne) Dilshan and Angelo (Mathews), a lot of experienced captains in my side. So I am really happy to look forward to that experience,” said Malinga.