Former skipper Mahela Jayawardene is concerned about Sri Lanka’s batting in this World Cup, saying the 1996 champions will need to put up a better show with the willow to give their bowlers more freedom. Sri Lanka crumbled to 136 against New Zealand in their first World Cup match. In the second game against Afghanistan on Tuesday, they were 144 for one in 21.1 overs before collapsing to 201 all out in 36.5 overs, losing nine wickets for 57 runs.
Though Sri Lanka managed to pull off a 34-run win in the rain-hit match, Jayawardene said it was disappointing to see the wickets tumble like nine pins.
“There is no question that Sri Lanka could have batted better. After such a good start, where Kusal Perera batted beautifully and they had two big partnerships, it was disappointing to see them lose their way in the middle,” Jayawardene wrote in a column for the ICC.
“In fairness to Mohammad Nabi, he bowled well, but the spinners were struggling to get much purchase and were just trying to hold the line. The way Sri Lanka lost wickets to him in the middle order is a real concern and there were too many soft dismissals. They need to be more proactive in that situation and put the bowler under pressure.”
Talking about Sri Lanka’s next match against Pakistan on Friday, Jayawardene said: “Playing Pakistan next in Bristol will be a very interesting game. After losing a low-scoring game against New Zealand, and after another low-scoring match here, we need to see them put it all together with the bat. “If they can do that, then the bowlers have a bit more freedom to put in place their game plans. A flat track would certainly help them with that confidence, but until then, the batters need to dig in.”
Jayawardene said Sri Lankan batsmen lacked confidence and employed a wrong approach against Afghanistan.
“I felt that too many players stayed back in their crease and that was the wrong approach. They should have been looking at 250 plus in Cardiff and it is something they will need to put right,” he wrote.
“The hope is that the boost from this win will help the batting unit, which looks short of confidence at the moment.”
Talking about the bowlers, Jayawardene said: “The bowlers did very well in difficult circumstances, with Nuwan Pradeep who was excellent and then some good bowling by Lasith Malinga at the back end of the innings. “With their five quick bowlers in those conditions, they always had a bit more in the tank and that made the difference in the end in the 34-run victory.”