Jayawardene takes positives from narrow defeats
Mahela Jayawardene is looking at the positives of having pulled two games back from the brink as opposed to feeling frustrated at not having finished those games off. Sri Lanka's three games in the series so far have been weird, in that they lacked flow and continuity. At times they showed remarkable spirit and intelligence, at times they played ordinary cricket that confounds.
In Sri Lanka's first game, their batting was stop-start against India but their bowlers pulled things back, before they were a little slow in the field as India came out from a slippery position. In the second game against Australia, Sri Lanka started superbly, Jayawardene was exceptional as captain, but their batsmen messed up the chase. Angelo Mathews didn't give up, though, and nearly took them to an exceptional win.
In their second meeting with India, the Sri Lanka batsmen floundered. Rickety start, Dinesh Chandimal-led rebuilding, and when the time arrived to push on, more wickets fell. The bowlers were ordinary at the start of the chase, but the fielders pulled them back so well they could smell the win, only for the fielding to break down and leave Sri Lanka with two points from three games.
"We take it in a positive way but we realise we did make mistakes," Jayawardene said. "We were not ruthless enough to finish games off, and that is a disappointment. We need to make sure, when we get into those situations, we finish games off and get that winning habit going. That's something we've spoken about and hopefully we can get that right tomorrow."
Jayawardene said Sri Lanka needed to react better in those crunch situations. "In certain situations we did not react that well. Even with the bat, it's not just the last 10 overs. We lost two early wickets and we built up. When we were setting up in that Powerplay, we lost two wickets and didn't take advantage. Missed run-outs in last two overs. Overall we didn't handle certain situations that well. At the end of the day I thought we came back strongly in a lot of departments to compete with India, so that was a positive, but we need to be ruthless to finish the game off."
He said the problem hadn't reached a stage where it could be said Sri Lanka had forgotten how to win, but admitted the need for wins was urgent. "We've been winning but when you start winning more percentages then [only] you get a good habit going," Jayawardene said. "We have been winning in between and losing a few games, playing some games really badly so there was the inconsistency. That's something we're trying to rectify."
Tomorrow's game against Australia will be Sri Lanka's fourth of the tournament. Even if they win, they will have to do much better in the second half of the tournament in order to make the finals. "It's a crucial game for us, and every game is important," Jayawardene said. "I can't predict how many wins we need to get into the finals. What's in our control is to try and win matches.
"It's a good game - the last one - with points on board, and if we can play the way we did in the last three games, and control certain situations better and make less mistakes, we'll get those wins under our belt. One, two, three good wins, and we can be on top of the table."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo