Atapattu and Moody pleased with youngsters
It cannot be denied that Sri Lanka weren't fully tested in their recent three-match one-day series against Bangladesh. Sri Lanka outplayed the tourists, convincingly beating them in each game, prompting Tom Moody, Sri Lanka's coach, to comment that his side couldn't make full use of the new, experimental one-day rules. Moody was, however, delighted with the efforts of several younger players who were given the chance to shine.
Speaking of the experimental one-day rules, he said: "When you are allowed to have a super sub, it allows you to have a lot more depth depending on which way you go. There are a lot of options for the captain whether it be batting or bowling," said Moody. "We found that it wasn't effectively used in this series because we weren't in any sort of pressure situation where it could be tested."
"We won the three matches rather [more easily] than we expected. It is very hard for those new one-day rules to be really gauged properly. We used them to our advantage through the series, but not from a point of view in a pressure match situation," said Moody. "It was more so from the balance of the team giving players more opportunities. In a tighter match situation we will be in a better situation to judge the new rules and regulations."
It was the first time that Sri Lanka had the opportunity to use the new experimental rules. Sri Lanka won 3-0 and it was so totally one-sided that the series lacked a competitive edge.
"We never wanted the series to be this easy," said the Sri Lankan captain, Marvan Atapattu. "It came to us in an easier way than we [expected]."
"Bangladesh are a much improved side from the last time we met them, but we are playing well. It is another series win after all. It doesn't mean that we have achieved all our goals. We still have areas where we can improve. We have won more series at home. It is time for us to concentrate on winning [more matches overseas] and make our mark there," said Atapattu.
Through no fault of theirs, in the past couple of years Sri Lanka has been confronted with very weak opposition. Last year, they toured Zimbabwe and thrashed an under-strength side in two Tests and three one-day internationals. Prior to Bangladesh's arrival here, they came up against a weakened West Indies team and the result was the same.
"The positive side of it is that we have managed to keep our intensive levels high to beat teams like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. We have done our homework well. We respect teams and we do what we can do best, without thinking too much about the opponents. It is shown by our results," said Atapattu.
"The difference between a good side and an average side in world cricket as I see it, is team work. Take Australia for that matter. Why they have been a good side is that there is somebody who will carry the burden on any given day," he said.
Moody, though, was more sympathetic towards Bangladesh and said his team had a lot of respect for them.
"Sri Lanka was in a similar position quite a few years ago. There is a metre of respect there. You've got to understand they are an emerging side. It is not going to happen overnight," he said. "But we've seen the success that Sri Lanka has had with some hard work and perseverance. From our personal point of view we know there are areas we can improve on, and we will improve. We can't expect Bangladesh to come over here and look to beat us 3-0 in this stage of their development."
He added that when playing against weaker sides like Bangladesh, it can be difficult at times to keep his team motivated.
"The ability of moving the side around, changing batting orders, resting three of the most senior players today was one way of motivating the side because you are giving opportunities to other players. Hopefully, they will grab those opportunities with both hands and create a competitive environment within the squad," said Moody.
The weakened opposition meant Sri Lanka could give opportunities to younger players, like Upul Tharanga, Dilhara Lokuhettige and Farveez Maharoof, who might otherwise have been overlooked, had the resistance been stronger.
Moody said: "We are very conscious of looking to build for the future. We were lucky enough to see the success of Upul Tharanga. He had a slow start in the Indian Oil series but proved his class in this series."
"Lokuhettige is another one who is a player who could play an important role in Sri Lankan cricket in the future. It is important [younger players] get exposure. A series like this has given us the opportunity to look at a few players and for them to gain confidence."
Moody said the plus points to come out of the series was the comeback of fast bowler Dilhara Fernando and the bowling of Maharoof.
"Fernando's had a bit of a tough time with injury. He's come back well and bowled with good pace and fire. His confidence is up and that's a good positive for Sri Lanka," said Moody. "Maharoof bowled superbly well in the Indian Oil series and has shown here that he going to be a more valuable bowler going into the future."
Atapattu expressed confidence that Sri Lanka's new generation of cricketers signalled Sri Lankan cricket was in good hands.