Despite the social, cultural and geological differences, there are lot of similarities between India and their southern neighbours Sri Lanka.
When it comes to the World Cup, the similarities become more evident. Both countries are going to host a considerable number of matches. One of the most important stadiums in both the nations — the Premadasa in Colombo and Wankhede in Mumbai have been reconstructed. And both teams enter the Cup, which will be inaugurated on Thursday in Dhaka, as contenders.
Along with the favourites' tag comes the additional burden of performing in front of the home crowd. No matter how big an asset it is to have a boisterous crowd supporting the home team, there is a flip side to it.
Both India and Sri Lanka, along with underdogs Bangladesh, go into the World Cup with one fear — of losing in front of the home crowd. While not many sub-continental cricketers admit to the fear, Kumar Sangakkara was honest to acknowledge the flip side of playing on the big stage at home.
“Losing,” said Sangakkara when asked about what he feared most while playing at home, on Wednesday night after Sri Lanka's victory against the West Indies in a warm-up tie at the Premadasa Stadium.
“The worst thing is you are nervous and afraid to go out and do what you know you can do. That's the biggest thing you have to be careful of. If you play as well as you know how to play, you make it that much harder for the opposition to beat you. Some days you can play the best cricket and still lose, but the point is to keep playing your best cricket consistently through this tournament.”
Obviously, it is easier said than done. But what can a player do to avoid being bogged down by pressure? “Not to think too much, not be negative, not complain about things we can't control but make sure we are focussed to play cricket.
That's what we are here to do, play cricket and play it well.”