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Theekshana will be available for the Pakistan game: Sri Lanka’s batting coach

Last updated on 09 Oct 2023 | 10:06 AM
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Theekshana will be available for the Pakistan game: Sri Lanka’s batting coach

Naveed Nawaz wants his bowling unit to learn from the South Africa game and execute better against Pakistan

Sri Lanka’s batting coach Naveed Nawaz has confirmed that Maheesh Theekshana will be available for the Pakistan game in Hyderabad on Tuesday (October 10). The ace spinner didn’t feature in Sri Lanka’s opening game against South Africa but seems to have recovered completely from his hamstring injury.

“Theekshana, I think he should be available for this game. Obviously, we didn't want to take a risk with him in the first match and didn't want to go against the advice of the medicals. I'm sure he'll be available for this one,” said Nawaz.

Sri Lanka surely felt the absence of their star spinner against South Africa. The Proteas smoked 428/5 in their 50 overs, the highest ever in the World Cup, and hammered Sri Lanka by 102 runs. Apart from skipper Dasun Shanaka, every Sri Lankan bowler leaked runs at an economy of more than eight.

“They got to think about - we are expecting to face similar pitches in India and it's not going to change much. It's going to batting-friendly pitch mostly. So, we've got to look at the execution in the game against South Africa and how we could have pulled back probably another 50-60 runs,” said Nawaz.

“We have to see what we could have done better, which we have already done. Keeping everyone positive is important because it's a long tournament. You're going to be playing, traveling, and doing so many other things for over two months. You're learning each game and moving forward.”

Sri Lanka tried their best in the run-chase but were bundled out for 326 in 44.5 overs. Kusal Mendis clobbered 76 off 42, while Charith Asalanka and Shanaka also slammed rapid fifties. Mendis, in particular, had a blast. The wicketkeeper-batter smashed four fours and eight maximums during his stay in the middle.

“I think this is where he has to come into his own. When a player like Kusal, who's playing all three formats, he's got to have a very clear mind. How am I going to play in Test cricket, how am I going to play, what is my approach when it comes to ODI cricket and what is my approach when it comes to T20s?

“So, I think he's learning and adjusting with experience. He's had a bad run not so long ago but closer to the Asia Cup, he started scoring runs again and then has been continuously putting runs on the board. I think the way to go for Kusal is the aggressive option. He needs to be positive. He needs to be looking for runs every time and he's been successful playing like that and I guess he should continue to play like that.”

Nawaz also spoke about Shanaka (62-ball 68) returning back to form. “That has been a worry for all of us, Dasun was not amongst runs and he's had a couple of injury scares as well. As a group, we are very pleased that he has scored runs and is getting better with his tennis elbow as well.”

Sri Lanka are now going to be up against Pakistan, who got the better of the Netherlands in their opening game. In Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali and Haris Rauf, the Men in Green have a formidable pace attack. The good thing for Sri Lanka would be that the boundaries in Hyderabad are bigger than Delhi’s and that will keep their spinners in the game.

“I think Pakistan is quite a strong opposition. The advantage that we have is that we played Pakistan recently in the Asia Cup, so both teams know about each team's strengths, weaknesses, whatever it may be. I think it's going to be a good tussle.

“The boundaries are slightly longer than Delhi. I think it will be at least about 65 meters all around the ground. The wickets have been good in Hyderabad. It has produced runs. There is a bit of bounce and it's good for batting, I guess. I think it's going to be a good game and two good teams playing each other. It's a challenge for our boys as well.” 

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