Going into the quarterfinals, Sri Lanka were as inconsistent as all the other top eight teams. Even though the mediocre display continued in the first half of Saturday’s quarterfinal, the second half was one of the most convincing phases of game in the World Cup so far.No doubt the England bowlers could not find the right line and length. Yet, the manner in which Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga dominated the bowling during their unbeaten opening stand of 231 runs did justify that Sri Lanka were indeed on their way to living up to the tag of favourites.
It was amazing to see Dilshan and Tharanga, who had put on 282 for the first wicket against Zimbabwe barely a fortnight ago, carry on Sri Lanka’s reputation for raising big partnerships. Whether it is the famous stands in Tests — between Sanath Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama (576 vs India in 1997) and the record by Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene (624 vs South Africa in 2006) — or the numerous 200-plus associations in ODIs, Sri Lanka have had the knack of putting on big partnershipsl at will.
Five of the 10 all-time partnerships for the opening wicket in ODIs, including Saturday’s effort, have been by Sri Lankans.
So what helps Sri Lanka churn out huge associations? “We’ve been lucky in that sense. We have had some great cricketers in Sri Lanka. For us, to be part of that legacy is important and we are very proud of that,” skipper Sangakkara said.
“The other factor is we are small as a country. Everyone lives in and around Colombo and play their cricket here no matter where we come from. So, we play each other over the weekends. That helps us to bond.”
Being a small nation definitely helps in big partnerships.