Sri Lanka’s Asia Cup 2022 winning hero Bhanuka Rajapaksa, whose stellar show with the bat played a pivotal role in his side’s sensational Asia Cup 2022 victory, insists his team is fully focused to win their final Group 1 match in Super 12s against England at the Sydney Cricket Ground even if they are knocked out of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup contention. He reckons that his team wants to justify their presence in Australia and would push harder for their last game.

“Preparations are just the same. We are coming here to justify our presence over here in Australia. We just want to play good cricket. At the end of the day, the result doesn’t really matter as long as we play some good cricket.

“We have already shown what we are capable of a couple of months back (by winning Asia Cup in the UAE), and it’s a strong side. Unfortunately, not all the results have come our way, but tomorrow’s game is quite important to end on a high note,” said Rajapaksa in the pre-match press conference.

This England-Sri Lanka clash becomes more crucial as Chris Silverwood, who is the head coach of Sri Lanka, has been England coach as well losing his job after a 4-0 Ashes thrashing. This would definitely be in favor of the island nation as they can get secrets from their coach on his ex-colleagues.

“It’s just another game for him. He finished his stint in England a couple of months back, and he joined Sri Lanka, so now he’s our coach. It’s just another matter of playing a winning game; that’s about it. We’re just taking it game by game, so no pressure riding on the coach”, Rajapaksa said.

“He’s one coach that we’ve been looking forward to his input, and the input has been quite straightforward and the clarity is there. There’s no limits with him, so we’ve been really pushed hard. He just wants us to get better every day, and it’s quite simple. There’s so much clarity, and he’s been great, and we’ll get better hopefully in the future,”

“We have a general strategy, plans for each individual when we play against them. It’s just we know the game, and for us as a team, we play a lot of franchise cricket so we know all the players more, and of course Chris has spoken to us. It’s just a normal strategy and a general plan for everyone. That’s about it,” Rajapaksa said. Hopefully the result will prepare us by Australia getting beaten by Afghanistan, so that’s what we are hoping for, but preparations are just the same,” he added.

Sri Lanka’s tournament was hampered badly by the number of injuries in the tournament, especially losing their lead pacers Dushmantha Chameera, Dilshan Madushanka and also replacement player Binura Fernando. “Ifs are not going to help us now, but, of course, it has impacted the performance of the side. But it’s not an excuse. Everyone wants to perform, it’s a major tournament. You can’t blame it on (the injuries). We hope the guys will get better and strong when the next World Cup happens (in 2024),” concluded Rajapaksa.

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