November 27, 2011

We need to put the Pakistan series behind us

It has been a disappointing outing for Sri Lanka in the UAE, but we've got to look ahead to South Africa

The UAE tour was frustrating because we had our opportunities but didn't convert them - especially in the fourth and fifth ODIs. In the fifth match we didn't hold onto our chances, while Pakistan had a couple of good partnerships and finished it off. We needed to be consistent with the momentum.

The pitch conditions are pretty similar to Sri Lanka, of course, but we were up against a very good bowling unit, who have a lot of variations. In the middle period it's tough to build a foundation if you keep losing wickets; and Pakistan's attacking combination relentlessly picked up wickets.

The new Powerplay rules create new scenarios. After the first 10 overs there is a gap of five overs, following which the fielding captains usually take the bowling Powerplay. This shifts the momentum because after the first 10 overs, the fielders go back. If you're batting well you try to hold on to your wicket because the next Powerplay might come any time soon, and that puts the fielding captain in a bit of a quandary whether to take it or not.

The batting Powerplay, between the 36th and 40th over, makes a huge difference. Even if you've lost just two or three wickets, you don't want to take too many risks because losing a few wickets would affect your momentum going into the last 10 overs. At the same time, it's a Powerplay and you need to score quickly.

I think you'll see scores coming down with the new Powerplay rules. Under the previous rule, teams kept wickets in hand and accelerated in the last five overs, in which they could get about 60 or more runs. Now teams get a maximum of 30-40 runs. With the field back in the last 10 overs you need power hitters to clear the ropes. The Powerplays and having a different ball at either end contribute towards making it an even game between bat and ball. It's a good challenge but teams will take some time to adjust to the new rules.

In the third ODI, I got out very early in the batting Powerplay. That slowed us down because it's difficult for a new batsman to get going immediately. Angelo [Mathews] had a couple of good overs but when [Dinesh] Chandimal got out in the last over of the Powerplay, Angelo had to restrict himself and make sure he stayed till the end.

In the fourth ODI, as soon as we saw the wicket we knew it was going to be a low-scoring game and that it was going to be difficult to bat against the spinners. Kumar [Sangakkara] and I had a very good partnership and it looked easy since we needed three-four runs an over. But when he got out, we lost a few more wickets. It's tough for the tailenders against spinners of that quality. I made a mistake as well; I was in two minds - whether to take chances or bat till the end. But credit goes to the Pakistan bowlers. They smelt an opportunity and were ruthless.

Looking at the bigger picture, we have a few youngsters coming through and we need to have faith in them. You still need to consider Angelo a youngster, although he has quite a bit of experience. The other promising ones are Chandimal and Jeevan Mendis. In one-day cricket particularly, we need to strike a balance between youth and experience, though there might be occasions when we need to fall back on the experienced lot until the youngsters get more confident. In Tests we need to place more faith in the experienced players.

Tillakaratne Dilshan has taken up a tough job as captain. It has not been easy because we have a reasonably new bowling attack and the selectors have picked a lot of youngsters. You need to give him time. At the same time Dilshan needs to think of his value as a batsman as well. Unfortunately he has had a lean period with the bat, which could affect his captaincy. He is capable of coming through these challenges and has done a decent job so far.

South Africa are going to be a bigger challenge mentally. We have to put this Pakistan series behind us. We cannot ride on what happened in the Middle East, take that extra baggage on board and think everything will turn around in South Africa. We need to play to our strengths and take positives from the Pakistan series.

Regarding my knee injury, I need two weeks of rest with medication. After that I will start a slow running programme and should be fit before the first Test in South Africa.

Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene is the country's leading Test run-scorer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Arosha on November 30, 2011, 14:05 GMT

    @"Posted by Uvindu Perera on (November 29 2011, 20:22 PM GMT)" But the fact is that especially S'kara bats without even concerning the end result of the game, where the game is heading I mean. Scoring a 70 in 100+ deliveries, or even a 100 in 120+ deliveries, may not win ODIs these days. I'm not mentioning about the 4th ODI which SL lost when they were chasing a modest 200+ total, but in general the average score in ODIs these days is much higher, so a top order batsman is supposed to score at a more decent rate. Moreover he doesn't bother taking any risk & lifting the tempo of the game even when it's badly needed, just remember the final of the WC2007 in which he took 40+ deliveries to reach his initial 18 runs. J'ya was going much better at the other end hitting 30+ inside 30 deliveries, yet S'kara didn't even bother rotatng the strike, thus killed the whole momentum of the run chase. Mahela may be comparatively more concerned regarding the end result, still very very inconsistent.

  • Dummy4 on November 29, 2011, 20:22 GMT

    @HLANGL, Two players alone can't make an impact when the rest of the team fail miserably. In the second half of their careers, Jayasuria and Aravinda had better support from the rest of the team to be aggressive and take command. So did most successful batsmen in the history of Cricket. That just not the case these days where Sri Lanka can be 190-3 and then all out for 220. For example, Mahela has an excellent record opening in ODIs but he is forced to play in the middle order. Why? It's because unlike Jayasuria, he has to shoulder the weight of the team rather than just being aggressive.

  • Rajinda on November 29, 2011, 15:55 GMT

    @ Lord.emsworth, thanks & u r right, sad days are already upon us! @ Roshini, bet U r referring to Sauth Paw's "recent "pas" comment that's making rounds on cyber space. @ Chandau, can't remember me ever agreeing with you here before, but there's always a first time mate... agree 200%. I hate when people blame pro-athletes for making money, when that is their job! As you rightly said we rather see the players make money than the "suits" and politicos! Just saw that Samaraweera was added to he SA squad (wait for it) by the sports minister. Guess who has to eat his own words "Thilan is not in our future plans"?

  • Parthiban on November 29, 2011, 15:35 GMT

    ...and then we'll need to put the South African series behind us look forward to whatever tour that comes up, and then we'll put that too behind us successfully and smell dandelions and spout poetry.

  • Arosha on November 29, 2011, 14:51 GMT

    For the most part, the current pathetic situation for SL has come with their batting. Some are simply not making runs at all, even the one who makes runs doesn't mind the influentiality of the runs he's making.S'kara is talking about the necessity of making 25 test hundreds to be a good batsman, 30 to be a great, 10,000 runs being the benchmark, etc.. What nonesense as long as he cannot impose his authority in the middle & take control of the situation of the game?.Mahela shuffles whenever the ball moves outside the offstump at a failry decent pace.Both these are more biased towards the runs, averages, but not on the impact they make on the end result which is the one ultimately matters.That's the one players like Richards, Gilchrist, J'ya, Saeed Anwar, Ponting at his peak, & Aravinda De Silva to a certain extent especially during the second half of career, had & that's why they brought many a victory to their respective countries.The current SL batting is lacking this whole dimension.

  • Arosha on November 29, 2011, 14:21 GMT

    No matter what's being said or written, the reasons for this continued humiliation are pretty clear & I'm not at all surprised to see it. How many innings played by S'kara & Mahela could take control of the game, I mean not the runs made after eating up a plenty of deliveries thus letting the opposition to take control of the game ?. Where's the impact of the runs they make on the end result ?. S'kara is a throwback to the 80's where most batsmen used to eat up deliveries, & his consistency lies in fact that he doesn't take any risk at all even when it's badly needed. Both J'ya & De Silva were greater tallents who could counterattack & pass the pressure onto the other party whenever it's required. Dilshan is not a well polished material to launch the attack upfront on a continuous basis though he's done well during '08-'11.Why's Thilan Thushara not being picked instead of Lakmal or Welagedara ?.Why's Randiv picked over Ajantha Mendis ?. I can go on, but space here doesn't permit more.

  • mohammad on November 29, 2011, 9:04 GMT

    MJ, you can give all the explanation, and we fully understand it. Only thing I do not understand is why you and then Sanga both gave up captaincy. Captaincy is a tough job and the person must have some charisma which is missing in you presentr captain. Come back man or make Sanga the Captain. See, what Misbah did to Pak team.

  • Al on November 29, 2011, 9:04 GMT

    Agree with Cannuck, except for the last sentance. Sad days are not ahead, they are already here! Of the last 4 Test series SL have played they have lost 3 and drawn 1. Todays SL are on par with emerging nations like Afghanistan, Kenya, Canada etc. Bangladesh, Zimb & Holland could easily beat this SL team. Pity, Cricket was the one sport SL were ever really good at and now this is gone too....

  • Dummy4 on November 29, 2011, 6:49 GMT

    Selectors and the captain has to be more justice full to the players and the country. Which has to guide and arrange always for a countries victory, not individual's benefits.. . Thus should STOP acting for underhand priorities and influences. Guys, Let's stop elaborating on what happened. Past is always a lesson for the present and future . Lets whish and hope for the best in SA … Cheers !

  • chandana on November 29, 2011, 5:07 GMT

    1. SLC has to shouldd must pay the guys ASAP if they want to see a reversal of performance. it is easy for so many arm chair pundits to comment and blame the players for bad performance; instead what they should do is to imagine themselves in a simillar position. assuming all these people who comment work for a living, imagine working for ur company or organization for 6+ months without being paid. doubt u will do that !

    cricket is a game played by 15 guys on the squad. although 11 take the field others contribute from the sidelines, in the nets, during off time. they are the bread winners for SLC powers that be who chose to waste the hard earned money on white elephants. sponsoers do not pay millions of $$$ for the board officials or the selectors or the team management; they play based on the players, like mahela, sanga, malinga et al. people do not come to grounds or tune to radio or switch on tv to look at duleep mendis the selector or dharmadasa the SLC chairman.

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