Ford expects better in Adelaide
Sri Lanka's coach Graham Ford has criticised his team for sloppiness in the field and between the wickets during their opening ODI loss to Australia, stressing that both departments must improve if the visitors are to achieve parity in the series with a victory in Adelaide on Sunday.
Facing an Australian side lacking numerous luminaries, including the captain Michael Clarke and the opening batsman David Warner, Sri Lanka allowed the hosts to post a muscular 5 for 305 before tossing away their chance at getting near to the target by surrendering three wickets to run outs. Ford was concerned by both the issues between the wickets and a lack of consistent pressure with the ball.
"We know we're a better side than that in the field," Ford said before the team's departure from Melbourne. "We dished up some fairly easy boundary balls which released pressure for the batters. The game plan is to try to build pressure and when you're releasing it every couple of overs it puts up on the back foot.
"The new field-place restrictions, we found that a little bit hard and maybe the fielders didn't support the bowlers as well as they could have. The problem is we did just give away too many easy boundary balls."
Both Australia and Sri Lanka had been bedevilled by run outs during the recent Test series and the pattern was maintained at the MCG, though the hosts' loss of Usman Khawaja proved far less ruinous than the trio - Tillakaratne Dilshan, Angelo Mathews and Lahiru Thirmanne - lost by the tourists during their chase.
"There's been a bit of discussion. There was some good fielding which contributed to some of them," Ford said. "When you're chasing a score like that, you just can't have the guts of your batting taken out through run outs. The pleasing thing is that quite a number of our batsmen look in good form and played really nicely but to give away three wickets to run outs makes the job almost impossible."
Eyebrows were raised at the indifferent showing of Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis in Melbourne, after both had been considered major inclusions to the Sri Lankan limited overs XI following the Tests. Ford expressed hope that neither would lose confidence as a result, suggesting both would be better for the run in Adelaide.
"As far as their confidence goes, I certainly hope not," Ford said. "They all showed at times how classy they are as bowlers but one or two overs got away from them which made their figures look a little bit nasty.
"We always knew we were up against some high-class one-day cricketers. You just can't afford to be off your game at all against players of that calibre. I don't think anything's changed. I don't think there's any sort of intimidation. We know we're up against a good team.
"You want to get on the scoresheet. We want to get out and play some good cricket and show that we're a good team. The next game is really, really important."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here