Sri Lankans have to prepare for anything against West Indies

DURHAM, England (AP) — Dimuth Karunaratne and his Sri Lanka squad had to prepare like they're still in contention at the Cricket World Cup.

With their playoff chances hinging on India beating England at Edgbaston on Sunday, Karunaratne and his team practiced on the eve of their group game against West Indies as if there was still a playoff spot on the line. They were going through batting and fielding drills when England set India a target of 338 to win.

"We can't control the other games," Karunaratne said. "Still we have a chance, I think, but we have to win these (last) two games and wait for the others, what will happen for the other games.

"If we have a chance, we definitely can be in the top four teams."

Sri Lanka was trounced in its opening game against New Zealand, beat Afghanistan and then had washouts against Pakistan and Bangladesh. A loss to Australia had them on the verge of an exit but an upset win over pre-tournament favorite England at Leeds shook up the whole competition. Sri Lanka had a chance to move level with England but lost to South Africa, and lost control of its tournament destiny.

Ahead of Sunday's game, only Australia was assured of a semifinal spot with 14 points. India and New Zealand had 11 points followed by Pakistan (9), England (8), Bangladesh (7) and Sri Lanka (6). Only the top four advance. A win for England puts Sri Lanka out.

"We have the skill to compete with all the teams but we performed only in patches — our batting didn't bat as a unit," Karunaratne said. "That's why we are in this position having to depend on other teams for a semifinal place."

The West Indies slumped out of contention after a loss to India three days ago, but coach Floyd Reifer said it wouldn't influence their game plan against Sri Lanka at Chester-le-Street. The future starts Monday for his team.

"Yes, we are out of the World Cup, but there is still a lot of cricket to play after the World Cup," Reifer said Sunday. "It's important for us to find the winning ways and find the winning formula going forward.

"We want to create that winning culture. It has to start from somewhere. The guys are still up for it. We're good to go."

The West Indies are aiming to regain the confidence they started the tournament with, when its pace quartet bounced out Pakistan for 105 in an opening win and then had defending champion Australia in strife at 38-4 and 79-5. They lost a tight one to the Australians, then were on top against South Africa before that game got washed out.

The performances to that point led to talk of a West Indies revival, harking back to an era when big fast bowlers were at the forefront of the great Caribbean teams.

But four losses followed — one came down to a matter of five runs and a couple of yards against New Zealand at Old Trafford, when Carlos Brathwaite was caught on the boundary trying to hit a six for victory.

"We had a long conversation in the dressing room — did a lot of soul-searching," Reifer said. "It is important for us and important for the fans in the Caribbean as well, for us to put up the performances, even at the back end of the World Cup."

Reifer said his team "didn't seize the key moments" in some games.

"We had Australia on the ropes. New Zealand as well," he said. "Collectively, we didn't bat properly. So it's just small things ... the 1 percenters that didn't we do well.

"The players are not comfortable with their performances, so we have a lot to play for. It is important that we keep building what we did well here as well in the World Cup because we did some things well."


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