Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene would like to see Dimuth Karunaratne’s men approach their final two round-robin World Cup matches with an aggressive mindset and finish the tournament “on a high”.
Sri Lanka play West Indies on July 1 and India on July 6, and Jayawardene called on the team to believe in their abilities and not begin the post-mortem of their disappointing World Cup campaign just yet.
“It’s too early to write them off and look beyond the tournament, there’s plenty of time to do that once it’s over,” Jayawardene wrote on a column for the ICC. They still have to think positively – win the last two and there is still an opportunity.
“Play with the right attitude now and then do the soul-searching once the games are complete.”
Jayawardene said he wanted to see a different approach from Sri Lanka in their match against West Indies, and believes this Sri Lanka ODI side is capable of better performances.
“If they go out there against the West Indies and be positive, believing in what they can do, then you never know what may happen,” Jayawardene wrote. “There are match-winners in that Sri Lanka team, they just have to believe they can do it.”
Jayawardene bemoaned Sri Lanka’s dismal batting at the World Cup, and emphasised the importance of senior batsmen taking on responsibility to build partnerships.
“The batsmen did it against England, they did it early against Australia but beyond that it’s been a struggle to put solid runs on the board,” he added.
“The tournament is all about partnerships, and making sure players have roles and responsibilities. Sri Lanka have had some good individual performances with the bat, but collectively as a unit they haven’t delivered as we hoped.”
“What’s gone before they have to put to one side, have a fresh mindset and go and put a decent score on the board whether batting first or second,” Jayawardene stressed. “Currently Sri Lanka haven’t been able to bat for 50 overs and score the required runs.
“It’s frustrating, but those individuals will be the most frustrated people of anyone. They’ll be wondering how this is happening – they have the talent, they have the ability, but application is required.
“They need to manage those emotions out in the middle and hopefully it can make a difference. Knowing the Sri Lankan fans and public, they’ll be backing the team all the way and they know they have the ability to be successful.
“So it’s down to the players to ask themselves if they are deserving of this position. Are we better than these performances?
“Nobody else can help them out so they have to go out there, take responsibility for the situation and perform in the way we know they can.
“That starts from the front, with Dimuth Karunaratne, the captain. But he’ll also be looking at his senior players, Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga, to help him create the positive mindset.
“We’ve seen out in the middle that Malinga believes – he showed that against England – but now we need that from the last two games to finish on a high.”
© Island Cricket