Sri Lanka’s new coach had a special training camp with the ODI squad, he inserted himself into the on-tour selection panel, and has sparked several key changes in the national team. But for all his prior international success, Chandika Hathurusingha is not a miracle worker. So says Thisara Perera, following a match in which Hathurusingha’s old charges walloped his new ones.
Sri Lanka were an exceedingly modest ODI side in 2017, losing 23 of their 29 matches. Two successive defeats to start the new year suggests they have a long, long way to go before they can consider themselves a competitive one-day side again.
“Having Chandika Hathurusingha is a plus point for us, because he is one of the best coaches in the world,” Thisara said. “Previously I have worked with him in the Sri Lanka A team as well. But he needs time. No one can do miracles. I think it is time for the team to step up, with this new coach.”
Thisara believed the stepping up, for the most part, must happen with the bat. It is certainly in that department that Sri Lanka were found wanting on Friday. Thisara’s own 29 was the highest score of the innings, and where Bangladesh’s batsmen had been fluent, many in Sri Lanka’s top order failed to gain the measure of the Mirpur surface. Never were they in this chase.
“This is definitely a 300-run wicket – our batting just didn’t click,” Thisara said. “When we look at the last match against Zimbabwe, we have a lot of positives to take from our batting, but in this match, we couldn’t execute our batting plans.”
Not that the bowling was stellar either. Of the six bowlers Sri Lanka used, five went at more than a-run-a-ball – spinner Akila Dananjaya being the only exception. As has been the case over the past two years, Sri Lanka’s attack also appeared to lack menace. Bangladesh’s three senior batsmen – Tamim Iqbal, Shakib al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim – scored effortless half-centuries. After 37 overs, Bangladesh had been 224 for 2.
“Again we didn’t execute our bowling plans in the match, but we came back strong after Shakib and Tamim batted well,” Thisara said. “It looked like a 350 score but it came down to 320. Our bowling unit is also doing well in the first 10 overs.”
Sri Lanka are now in serious danger of being knocked out of the tri-series, and must win their match against Zimbabwe on Sunday to keep hopes alive. Even a year ago, the prospect of not making the final of a tournament involving these two oppositions seemed unthinkable. But with Zimbabwe having won their three most recent games against Sri Lanka, it is possible that Sri Lanka may even go into that match as the less-favoured side. Such has been the rate of their ODI fall.
“But I think we should keep our heads up, because no one should underestimate us,” Thisara said. “No one can say when we will rise up. I have faith that we can go far with our new coach.”a