Sri Lanka realise harsh realities | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka realise harsh realities

Angelo Mathews the Sri Lankan captain plays an imaginary shot on the wicket that is being prepared for today’s third ODI against South Africa at the Pallekele Stadium.  Pic: Susantha Wijegunasekera
Angelo Mathews the Sri Lankan captain plays an imaginary shot on the wicket that is being prepared for today’s third ODI against South Africa at the Pallekele Stadium. Pic: Susantha Wijegunasekera

Sri Lanka has eventually realised that making pitches to suit their bowling strength which is spin is getting them nowhere in One-Day International cricket and skipper Angelo Mathews said that at the team meetings they had decided to change their strategy and try to win matches playing on batting surfaces.

Following back to back defeats in the first two matches of the ongoing five-match series against South Africa, Sri Lanka have sat back and thought hard how they can move forward with the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England less than ten months away.

They have come to a conclusion that preparing batting tracks would be the answer for that is the type of pitches they would get for the World Cup.

“We have to take a look at where we have gone wrong in the past. In the last 36 ODIs we have won only nine games and we keep giving excuses. We can give excuses like we have had too many captains. We have rotated too many players. The fact remains that in the last ten series or so we have won only one. We need to change the way we think and our strategies,” said Mathews at the pre-match press conference yesterday.

“We sat as a group and we are going to change the way we play. Ten months away from the World Cup we need to find out whether we are going to gain anything by playing on dusty slow wickets against a team like South Africa.

“That is the biggest question as we are not going to gain anything. If we want to win overseas, we have got to change the way we play. We have got to start playing on good wickets. Yes, it might take a bit of time but I can assure you that the team will improve going forward and once the guys get used to it we can win overseas.

“We will change from tomorrow’s game. The last nine series if you take we have chased more than 300 three times. That shows that we are a good team and we can play on good wickets. That is the change that we need to make. We will move forward regardless of what happens,” he said.

For Sri Lanka’s continued losses one can’t point a finger at only the captain because he does not have the kind of experienced players around him to give him advice as past captains had.

“I was so lucky when I started as I had the luxury of having seniors like T.M Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. It was easy for me to go out there as they helped me so much. I am not saying that I don’t get the support of seniors. We have seniors in the likes of Thisara Perera and Upul Tharanga. It is difficult at times, but we have got to move forward,” said Mathews.

Trailing 0-2, Sri Lanka are under pressure to win today to keep the series alive and Mathews said that it was the mindset that his team has got to adjust to.

“It’s just the mindset. They are an experienced unit and we need to play our best cricket to beat these guys. The batters in particular have to put runs on the board so that the bowlers can defend.. If we bowl first obviously, the bowlers have to restrict them to a chase-able total,” said Mathews.

“Nowadays it is very result-oriented. But if you want to achieve something moving forward with the team, you need to decide on what needs to be done. Our public love the game and they want us to win. We understand that and we want to win games and we’ve worked hard at it. But at the same time we have to change our strategy moving forward. We have to play on good tracks to improve as a team,” he said.

The Sri Lankan skipper put it down to too much reliance on spin and preparation of slow turning tracks that had contributed to his bowlers and batters failing to produce the performance they are capable of.

“Test matches are different, but when it comes to white ball cricket, we rely too much on our spinners. Whenever teams like South Africa, England or Australia come over here we tend to do that. If you look at overseas teams, they play on good wickets. Yes, other teams use home advantage when it comes to Test cricket, but when it comes to ODI cricket; all oppositions want to play on good surfaces.

“They believe that they can win on good wickets even playing at home. In the past we have relied on our spinners too much but that is not going to happen in the future,” stated Mathews.“I would like to reiterate the fact that how many times we have scored over 300 in the past 30 odd games. We have not batted our 50 overs. We have not got more than 250 on four or five occasions. That comes with confidence. If you want to play a shot or if you want to take a risk, the wicket has to be good. On slow turning tracks it is not an easy task for the batters. That is one reason why we decided to play on good tracks,” he said. The good news for Sri Lanka is that fast bowler Lahiru Kumara has recovered from the hand injury he suffered at practice and is available for selection.