Champions League 2014 September 18, 2014

We missed Malinga and Dilshan - Southern Express

The absence of two high-profile Twenty20 cricketers hamstrung Sri Lanka's Southern Express in Champions League T20, their manager has said.

Southern Express lost all three matches of the qualifying group - to Northern Districts (from New Zealand), Mumbai Indians and Lahore Lions (Pakistan) - to make an early exit from the tournament.

"[Tillakaratne] Dilshan's absence had a psychological effect on the team. Everyone was upbeat with Dilshan's inclusion in the team," Southern Express manager Shane Fernando said. "We were hoping that he and Kusal Perera would provide the ideal start to our batting.

"The team would have benefited not only from Dilshan's batting but also from his bowling and fielding."

Fernando said that Dilshan who represented English county Surrey did not participate at team practice sessions due to a calf-muscle injury. "The national team physio said that he was fit to play but ruled him out of practice." Eventually Dilshan pulled out of the tournament due to a family commitment.

"We were also without another world-class T20 performer Lasith Malinga who opted to play for Mumbai Indians," said Fernando. "Malinga was instrumental in Southern Express qualifying to play in the Champions League when we emerged winners of the SLC Super Fours T20."

Fernando said apart from these two players the team was a balanced unit but lacked the experience of playing T20 cricket, especially under lights.

"We had the talent but most of the younger players had little exposure to playing T20 cricket and playing under lights," Fernando said. "The occasion became a little too big for them.

"Although our team preparations were good and we went with a good chance of qualifying these little factors proved decisive in our final result."

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