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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Interview >

Early wickets will surprise
the Aussies: Atapattu

March 17, 2003

Marvan AtapattuClassy and elegant, with a great temperament. That's Sri Lanka opener Marvan Atapattu, a batsman who carefully builds his innings. He made his one-day international debut in December 1990 and has since rattled up over 40 half-centuries in one-day matches.

At the turn of the millennium, his efforts were rewarded with the vice-captaincy of the team. With 368 runs, at an average of 61.30, in the World Cup, Atapattu ranks as Sri Lanka's best batsman. Ashish Magotra spoke to him on the eve of the semi-final between Australia and Sri Lanka.

Your style of play is so much different from the other Sri Lankans; technically more correct but not as flamboyant. Where did you pick up the style from?

This is how I have been taught. I have been playing this way ever since I first seriously started playing cricket at the age of eight. I guess it is also the reason why I fit into this team. You can't have seven batsmen all playing the same role. Everyone is different from each other. I haven't changed my style of play and have been pretty successful. I am not saying that I have gone all the way, but as long as I am comfortable I will keep on playing this way.

Do you feel quicker wickets suit your style of batting?

Yes. Every batsman likes the ball coming on to the bat, rather than stopping and turning, and I am no different.

How big a threat do you thing Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee will be in the semi-finals?

They are very good bowlers and have proved themselves in the international arena. But you play the ball on its merit. They are only human. If they give you a bad ball, you hit it for runs, and if they bowl an unplayable ball, you get out. It's as simple as that.

What do you think is the secret to beating the Aussies?

They are a side that is playing very good cricket and scores it's runs very quickly. It is very hard to contain them. The only way to keep the run-rate down is to claim wickets. I think if we claim some early wickets we just might surprise them and keep them in check for a few overs. That just might be the turning point of the game; they will be on the back-foot for some time and we can grab our chance then.

The Port Elizabeth pitch seems to suit the spinners a lot. Do you see Muthiah Muralitharan having a big part to play in the match?

That's what everyone says. But it is what happens on the field that will make the difference. But you never know how the pitch will play on the day. It takes turn but you never know how it will play.

Did you set yourself any goals before the start of the World Cup?

I always wanted to carry the team to the semi-finals before the start of the World Cup and I am glad I have achieved that.

An All-Asian final between India and Sri Lanka in the offing?

I will be glad to walk on to the field if it does happen. But the game is the winner in the end. We will give it our best shot.

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