By Baidurjo Bhose
Leeds, July 5 (IANS): Going into their last game of the World Cup against India, Sri Lanka have nothing to lose. They are already out of the competition and on the face of it, the game will be a dead rubber of sorts at the Headingley Cricket Stadium on Saturday. But for the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) this tournament has been another proof that transition needs to be done with fast if the island nation wants to get back to its glory days on the international stage.
During this edition of the World Cup, the few times when the Lankan fans got something to cheer about, it was due to the performances of old stalwarts — Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews. While Malinga dismissed Jos Buttler to win Lanka the game against England and throw the tournament wide open, Mathews bowled after 18 months to dismiss Nicholas Pooran and win Lanka their previous game.
Not denying the performance of skipper Dimuth Karunaratne and lone centurion Avishka Fernando, but like Mathews pointed on the sidelines of training on Thursday, consistency has to be the key.
“It has been a disappointing World Cup, unfortunately two games were rained out and you can’t control weather. We played well in patches, but not very well to make it to the semi-finals,” he pointed.
Old warhorse, Malinga, was much more harsh with his words as he made it clear that the Lankan youngsters need to rise to the occasion and meet the challenges that lie ahead.
“All the young players got a World Cup experience and will know how tough it is to play international cricket. They should work hard to play competitive cricket after the World Cup.
“In international cricket, players need to understand how tough the level of competition is and the game against India will be another such opportunity for the young players. They have to learn about handling situations and they have to then work hard towards achieving goals.
“The young fast bowlers need to work hard and be accurate, it is as simple as that. They have to work hard as we don’t have much talent because we don’t play competitive cricket like the premier league and the bowlers have to show skills and character. Without that you cannot succeed in international cricket,” he explained.
“We are looking to do well and that is important. We must look to learn and show our skill. Cricket is simple and have to focus on basics and be accurate.”
Skipper Karunaratne too, has been vocal about how the inexperienced batsmen letting the team down on a couple of occasions.
“I think the batting is the main collapse, you know. We played like five matches, couldn’t get a hundred, only a couple of 50s in our team, so that was the only major thing (till Fernando scored a century). If you want to compete with the good sides, you definitely got to have a good batting line-up and you have to put runs on the board, so I think in this World Cup, the major part (problem) was the batting line-up,” he said.
If Lanka are to get back to winning habits, the Lankan board surely needs its young players to rise to the challenge and make the world take note.